There are 4 main definitions of bell in English:

bell1

Syllabification: bell

noun

1A hollow object, typically made of metal and having the shape of a deep inverted cup widening at the lip, that sounds a clear musical note when struck, typically by means of a clapper inside: the church bells tolled a bell tinkled as he went in the shop [as modifier]: the bell chamber
More example sentences
  • It had a steepled roof with a weathervane at the top of the steeple and a brass bell tucked within the open wooden tower.
  • Suddenly, the serenity is pierced by the distinct tone of a ringing bell.
  • Those clanging bells reminded me of another vendor who used to make similar rounds in the neighbourhood.
1.1A device that includes or sounds like a bell, used to give a signal or warning: a bicycle bell
More example sentences
  • The warning bell rang signaling two minutes before their next class.
  • The warning bell for dinner rang, signaling for the household to start getting ready for dinner.
  • Having just begun a fearsome maths test I still remember the surge of relief when the electric bell sounded its continuous warning.
1.2 (the bell) A bell rung to denote intervals of time, such as (in boxing and other sports) to mark the start or end of a round: at the bell, we dashed out of Latin class the fight went to the final bell for a decision
More example sentences
  • Two minutes after the bell for round one, Liston was the new undisputed champ.
  • Just as the bell ended the fifteenth round, Frazier put his hands up and yelled something at Ali.
  • Right before the bell for the first round the anticipation was high.
2A bell-shaped object or part of one, such as the end of a trumpet.
2.1The corolla of a bell-shaped flower: a flower with small, pale blue bells
More example sentences
  • Great black bees make their way from the bell of one flower to the petals of the next.
  • The citron yellow or red tinged flowers are also worth having, hanging bells on tall stalks that dance in the wind and give way to upright seed heads for autumn interest.
  • Salvia confertiflora is a half-hardy salvia with delicate orange bells along its stem.
3 (bells) A musical instrument consisting of a set of cylindrical metal tubes of different lengths, suspended in a frame and played by being struck with a hammer. Also called tubular bells.
More example sentences
  • Working with sampled bells, gongs and prepared piano, he then uses electronic equipment to process this first layer and continues to build up his compositions.
  • He planted the two harps in front of the orchestra, on either side of his rostrum, and banished bells and drums to the unseen backstage.
  • The overture is similar to its more illustrious counterpart from Tchiakovsky and it also has bells in its final moments.
4 Nautical (Preceded by a numeral) the time as indicated every half hour of a watch by the striking of the ship’s bell one to eight times: at five bells in the forenoon of June 11
More example sentences
  • The bell tolled the last of eight bells in the afternoon on Dolphin.
  • Hornblower left the first watch at four bells, entered the cabin, and sat writing in the log by the light of a single candle and the ceiling lantern.
  • Eight bells brought him back from the run before the wind.

verb

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1 [with object] Provide with a bell or bells; attach a bell or bells to: the young men were belling and hobbling the horses before releasing them (as adjective belled) animals in gaudy belled harnesses
More example sentences
  • She readjusted her jingling belled hat.
  • He tilted his head, his belled hat jingling faintly, when the king just sputtered, red-faced, instead of answering his question.
  • Oh yes, and health inspectors should be belled like lepers.
2 [no object] Make a ringing sound likened to that of a bell: the organ belling away
3 [no object] Spread or flare outward like the lip of a bell: her shirt belled out behind
More example sentences
  • He was wearing a red V-neck shirt with long sleeves that belled out near the hands, white jeans, and black slip-on shoes with thick white socks.
  • It had a low cut V-neck, and the sleeves belled out into dramatic triangular petals.
  • Her green dress belled out around her with the speed of his dancing, and she felt like magic…

Origin

Old English belle, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch bel, and perhaps to bell2.

Phrases

be saved by the bell

(In boxing and other sports) avoid being counted out by the ringing of the bell at the end of a round.
More example sentences
  • He was knocked down twice in the ninth round and was saved by the bell.
  • He was saved by the bell from a fourth round knock-out.
  • In the ninth round the champion was saved by the bell.
Escape from danger narrowly or by an unexpected intervention.
More example sentences
  • As with most other remarkable escapes, Morgan is saved by the bell.
  • They were saved by the bell when a courtly looking man, most likely a bodyguard, showed up out of nowhere, went up to the podium, and promptly announced that there was a bomb threat on the building.
  • I was saved by the bell and reached for salvation before anyone else dreamed of moving - they were trying to wake up from their peaceful slumber.

bell the cat

Take the danger of a shared enterprise upon oneself.
[an allusion to a fable in which the mice (or rats) suggest hanging a bell around the cat's neck to have warning of its approach]
More example sentences
  • Warner is to be lauded for his courage to bell the cat, albeit at the eleventh hour, and close this unfortunate chapter in the country's footballing history, by replacing St Clair.
  • But the burning question is: who will bell the cat?
  • Though the industry had been deliberating at length over the crisis for long, they failed to evolve a consensus and ultimately the exhibitors had to step in to bell the cat.

bells and whistles

informal Attractive additional features or trimmings: an advocate of more bells and whistles on the income tax code
[an allusion to the various bells and whistles of old fairground organs]
More example sentences
  • It has enough bells and whistles to satiate special effects fans, but not too many to cheapen the overall film.
  • If you can live without the latest bells and whistles, then used equipment may be for you.
  • They want an integrated system with all the bells and whistles of high-end storage as standard features.

(as) clear (or sound) as a bell

Perfectly clear or sound: Aunt Nora’s words came clear as a bell
More example sentences
  • ‘Hi, this is Roger,’ said my buddy Roger - his voice clear as a bell on the answer phone.
  • When I got up the next morning, the dream was still clear as a bell, and it continues to stay with me until this day.
  • It switches between being clear as a bell, and being murky and distant.

ring a bell

informal Revive a distant recollection; sound familiar: the name Woodall rings a bell
More example sentences
  • If the name rings a bell, it is because he might have helped you buy a book, film or album.
  • While her name might not ring a bell in the minds of most people, the festival will screen a ‘snippet’ from her body of work titled ‘Harlequin’.
  • One of the country's legendary tenor saxophone players, his name might not ring a bell for those who are not in tune with Jazz in India, but he deserves to be remembered.

with bells on

informal Enthusiastically: everybody’s waiting for you with bells on
More example sentences
  • I mean, even if she didn't feel well, she would be there with bells on.
  • I'll be there with bells on, I promise - but what about the game?
  • The audience is likely to show up for ‘A Christmas Classique,’ by pianist Lorie Line and her pop chamber orchestra, with bells on.

Definition of bell in:

There are 4 main definitions of bell in English:

bell2

Syllabification: bell

noun

The cry of a stag or buck at rutting time.
More example sentences
  • Our guides will have you listen to the bell of the stag at the mating season or observe the animals from watch towers.
  • We organise evening visits to the animal reserve on these two special weekends to listen to the stag's bell and the clashing of the antlers as the animals fight.

verb

[no object] Back to top  
(Of a stag or buck) make a cry at rutting time.
More example sentences
  • The wood in the half-light waking at daybreak to the belling of stags that bursts into barks.
  • During the rut in October and November you can hear the stags belling or roaring.
  • My very earliest memories are of picnics with my mother beneath the great trees in Richmond Park in London, of red deer stags belling in rut, of lightning and thunder.

Origin

Old English bellan 'to bellow', of Germanic origin; related to German bellen 'to bark, bray', and perhaps also to bell1.

Definition of bell in: