[ nel ]
/ nɛl /


the sound made by a bell rung slowly, especially for a death or a funeral.
a sound or sign announcing the death of a person or the end, extinction, failure, etc., of something: the knell of parting day.
any mournful sound.

verb (used without object)

to sound, as a bell, especially a funeral bell.
to give forth a mournful, ominous, or warning sound.

verb (used with object)

to proclaim or summon by, or as if by, a bell.

Origin of knell

before 950; (noun) Middle English knel, Old English cynll; (v.) Middle English knellen, knyllen, Old English cynllan; cognate with Old Norse knylla to beat, strike; akin to Dutch knal bang, knallen to bang, German Knall explosion, knallen to explode


un·knelled, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

Examples from the Web for knell

British Dictionary definitions for knell

/ (nɛl) /


the sound of a bell rung to announce a death or a funeral
something that precipitates or indicates death or destruction


(intr) to ring a knell
(tr) to proclaim or announce by or as if by a tolling bell

Word Origin for knell

Old English cnyll; related to Middle High German knüllen to strike, Dutch knallen to bang
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Idioms and Phrases with knell


see death knell.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.