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with bells on

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Ready to celebrate, eagerly, as in Of course I'll come; I'll be there with bells on. This metaphoric expression alludes to decorating oneself or one's clothing with little bells for some special performance or occasion. A well-known nursery rhyme has: “See a fine lady upon a white horse, Rings on her fingers and bells on her toes, And she shall have music wherever she goes” (in Gammer Gurton's Garland, 1784).

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

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