[ bel ]
/ bɛl /
a hollow instrument of cast metal, typically cup-shaped with a flaring mouth, suspended from the vertex and rung by the strokes of a clapper, hammer, or the like.
the stroke or sound of such an instrument: We rose at the bell.
anything in the form of a bell.
the large end of a funnel, or the end of a pipe, tube, or any musical wind instrument, when its edge is turned out and enlarged.
Architecture. the underlying part of a foliated capital.
- any of the half-hour units of nautical time rung on the bell of a ship.
- each individual ring of the bell, counted with others to reckon the time: It is now four bells.
- a signal on the telegraph of a large power vessel, made between the navigating officers and the engineer.
Zoology. umbrella (def. 2).
Botany. the bell-shaped corolla of a flower.
Metallurgy. a conical lid that seals the top of a blast furnace and lowers to admit a charge.
verb (used with object)
to cause to swell or expand like a bell (often followed by out): Belling out the tubes will permit a freer passage of air.
to put a bell on: Should we bell the wreath so we'll know when he opens the front door?
British Informal. to telephone: If I have time, I’ll bell you from the office.
verb (used without object)
to take or have the form of a bell.
Botany. to produce bells; be in bell (said of hops when the seed vessels are forming).
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Idioms for bell
bell the cat. cat (def. 19).
ring a bell, to evoke a memory, especially a vague or partial recollection; remind one of something: His name rings a bell but I can't remember him.
- to provide what is desired; be satisfactory or successful: This new book just doesn't ring my bell.
- Slang. to arouse sexually or bring someone to orgasm.
- (of a boxer) saved from a knockout by the ringing of a gong signaling the end of a round.
- (of any person) spared from anticipated trouble by some extraneous event.
ring someone's bell,
saved by the bell,
with bells on, Informal. eagerly; ready to enjoy oneself: Just say when, and we'll be there with bells on.
Origin of bell1
First recorded before 1000; Middle English, Old English belle; cognate with Dutch bel; derivative of bell2
OTHER WORDS FROM bellbell-less, adjective
Definition for bell (2 of 3)
[ bel ]
/ bɛl /
verb (used with or without object)
to bellow like a stag in rutting time.
to bay, as a hunting dog.
the cry of a rutting stag or hunting dog.
Definition for bell (3 of 3)
[ bel ]
/ bɛl /
Ac·ton [ak-tuhn], /ˈæk tən/, pen name of Anne Brontë.
Alexander Graham, 1847–1922, U.S. scientist, born in Scotland: inventor of the telephone.
(Arthur) Clive (Howard), 1881–1964, English critic of literature and art.
Cur·rer [kur-er], /ˈkɜr ər/, pen name of Charlotte Brontë.
Ellis, pen name of Emily Brontë.
James Thomas "Cool Papa", 1903–91, U.S. baseball player, a Negro Leagues outfielder noted for his speed.
John, 1797–1869, U.S. political leader: Speaker of the House 1834–35.
a city in SW California, near Los Angeles.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021
British Dictionary definitions for bell (1 of 3)
/ (bɛl) /
a hollow, usually metal, cup-shaped instrument that emits a musical ringing sound when struck, often by a clapper hanging inside it
the sound made by such an instrument or device, as for showing the hours or marking the beginning or end of a period of time
an electrical device that rings or buzzes as a signal
the bowl-shaped termination of the tube of certain musical wind instruments, such as the trumpet or oboe
any musical percussion instrument emitting a ringing tone, such as a glockenspiel, one of a set of hand bells, etcCompare chime 1 (def. 3)
nautical a signal rung on a ship's bell to count the number of half-hour intervals during each of six four-hour watches reckoned from midnight. Thus, one bell may signify 12.30, 4.30, or 8.30 a.m. or p.m
See diving bell
biology a structure resembling a bell in shape, such as the corolla of certain flowers or the body of a jellyfish
British slang a telephone call (esp in the phrase give someone a bell)
beat seven bells out of or knock seven bells out of British informal to give a severe beating to
bell, book, and candle
- instruments used formerly in excommunications and other ecclesiastical acts
- informal the solemn ritual ratification of such acts
ring a bell to sound familiar; recall to the mind something previously experienced, esp indistinctly
sound as a bell in perfect condition
the bells the ringing of bells, in a church or other public building, at midnight on December 31st, symbolizing the beginning of a new year
to be or cause to be shaped like a bell
(tr) to attach a bell or bells to
bell the cat to undertake a dangerous mission
Word Origin for bell
Old English belle; related to Old Norse bjalla, Middle Low German bell; see bell ²
British Dictionary definitions for bell (2 of 3)
/ (bɛl) /
a bellowing or baying cry, esp that of a hound or a male deer in rut
to utter (such a cry)
Word Origin for bell
Old English bellan; related to Old Norse belja to bellow, Old High German bellan to roar, Sanskrit bhāsate he talks; see bellow
British Dictionary definitions for bell (3 of 3)
/ (bɛl) /
Acton, Currer (ˈkʌrə), and Ellis . pen names of the sisters Anne, Charlotte, and Emily BrontëSee Brontë
Alexander Graham . 1847–1922, US scientist, born in Scotland, who invented the telephone (1876)
Sir Francis Henry Dillon . 1851–1936, New Zealand statesman; prime minister of New Zealand (1925)
Gertrude (Margaret Lowthian). 1868–1926, British traveller, writer, and diplomat; secretary to the British High Commissioner in Baghdad (1917–26)
Joshua. born 1967, US violinist
Dame (Susan) Jocelyn, married name Jocelyn Burnell, born 1943, British radio astronomer, who discovered the first pulsar
Vanessa, original name Vanessa Stephen . 1879–1961, British painter; a member of the Bloomsbury group, sister of Virginia Woolf and wife of the art critic Clive Bell (1881–1964)
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
Medical definitions for bell
Sir Charles 1774-1842
[ bĕl ]
British anatomist and surgeon who published detailed anatomies of the nervous system and the brain. He was the first to distinguish between sensory and motor nerves. Bell's Law and Bell's palsy are named for him.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Scientific definitions for bell
Alexander Graham 1847-1922
[ bĕl ]
Scottish-born American scientist and inventor whose lifelong interest in the education of deaf people led him to conceive the idea of transmitting speech by electric waves. In 1876 his experiments with a telegraph resulted in his invention of the telephone. He later produced the first successful sound recorder, an early hearing aid, and many other devices.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Idioms and Phrases with bell
In addition to the idiom beginning with bell
- bell the cat, who will
- clear as a bell
- ring a bell
- saved by the bell
- sound as a bell
- with bells on
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.