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  1. a loud, prolonged ringing of bells.
  2. a set of bells tuned to one another.
  3. a series of changes rung on a set of bells.
  4. any loud, sustained sound or series of sounds, as of cannon, thunder, applause, or laughter.
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verb (used with object)
  1. to sound loudly and sonorously: to peal the bells of a tower.
  2. Obsolete. to assail with loud sounds.
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verb (used without object)
  1. to sound forth in a peal; resound.
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Origin of peal

1350–1400; Middle English pele, akin to peal to beat, strike (now dial.)
Related formsin·ter·peal, verb (used with object)un·pealed, adjective
Can be confusedpeal peel

Synonyms for peal

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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for peal

sound, resounding, crash, ringing, roar, thunder, rumble, reverberation, carillon, tintinnabulation, ring, blast, clamor, clap, bell, crack, toll, resonate, knell, resound

Examples from the Web for peal

Historical Examples of peal

  • Sometimes all the bells which compose a peal tell their various uses.

    English Villages

    P. H. Ditchfield

  • At that moment, to his excessive astonishment, the organ began to peal forth.

    The Channings

    Mrs. Henry Wood

  • A moment of stunned quiet had succeeded the peal of thunder.

  • Our eyes met, and Adelaide burst into a peal of harsh laughter.

    The First Violin

    Jessie Fothergill

  • Ned never forgot the peal of laughter which came from his parents.

British Dictionary definitions for peal


  1. a loud prolonged usually reverberating sound, as of bells, thunder, or laughter
  2. bell-ringing a series of changes rung in accordance with specific rules, consisting of not fewer than 5000 permutations in a ring of eight bells
  3. (not in technical usage) the set of bells in a belfry
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  1. (intr) to sound with a peal or peals
  2. (tr) to give forth loudly and sonorously
  3. (tr) to ring (bells) in peals
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Word Origin for peal

C14 pele, variant of apele appeal


  1. a dialect name for a grilse or a young sea trout
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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

Word Origin and History for peal


mid-14c., "a ringing of a bell" especially as a call to church service, generally considered a shortened form of appeal (n.), with the notion of a bell that "summons" people to church (cf. similar evolution in peach (v.)). Extended sense of "loud ringing of bells" is first recorded 1510s.

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1630s, from peal (n.). Related: Pealed; pealing.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper