Definition of belly in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈbelē/

noun (plural bellies)

1The front part of the human trunk below the ribs, containing the stomach and bowels.
Example sentences
  • Now he puts the light sounds with something else remembered, with primrose, with laughter, and down through him a prickle runs and it seems to stop in his belly, below him.
  • Our little girl was wriggling around trying to get comfy while the sonographer bounced the ultrasound stick on my belly to try and get her to shift to a good position so we could see all four chambers of her heart.
  • He held his breath and swung his arms out, but a fist buried itself in his belly, emptying his lungs, and when he sucked in air, he knew he was in terrible trouble.
1.1The stomach, especially as representing the body’s need for food: they’ll fight all the better on empty bellies
More example sentences
  • It won't put medicine in decrepit hospitals or food in empty bellies.
  • Plus, having food in your belly can lower your chances of upset stomach, which vitamins can sometimes cause.
  • We stood, our bellies content and our bodies consumed with fatigue.
1.2The underside of a bird or other animal.
Example sentences
  • Our bird had a brown belly, however, and I turned the page to Common Yellowthroat.
  • But the wily Ulysses had tied his men under the bellies of the animals.
  • The ventral or under side of the animal including the belly, is lighter in color than the dorsal or top side. They can have prominent hip stripes.
1.3A cut of pork from the underside between the legs.
Example sentences
  • Choucroute, a statement of Alsatian identity on a plate, is a sturdy dish of sauerkraut laden with cured and boiled meats: smoked sausage, ham knuckles, belly pork.
  • He has brought a piece of Village Farm's belly pork and the head chef wants him to prepare and cook a signature menu for the restaurant.
  • Octopus and squid ceviche, salt cod croquettes and pot-roast belly pork and cheeks were all good enough to go back for.
1.4A pig’s belly as food, especially as a traded commodity.
Example sentences
  • After all, pork bellies are a commodity, and they make the Farm Report every day.
  • Her husband, Harvey, is a commodity broker, but he would sooner die, she insists on his behalf, than trade pork bellies.
  • The owners treated their serfs as if they were a commodity like pork bellies.
1.5The rounded underside of a ship or aircraft.
Example sentences
  • Bull came up from the belly of the ship and stood on the deck.
  • Engines began to hum deep in the belly of the ship, but Boertousce's grin only widened, the lips peeling back as if mocking his efforts.
  • Often it arrived in the form of ballast in the bellies of ships, which ensured that everything apart from the bilge water could be traded to maximise the trip.
1.6The top surface of an instrument of the violin family, across which the strings are placed.
Example sentences
  • The lira type had a broad pear shape, with a wooden belly and usually three strings.
  • On the cello the distance from the top nut to the top edge of the belly is 28 cm, from the edge of the belly to the bridge 40 - 42 cm.
  • The bridge must be made of the proper grade of maple, properly cut with regard to the grain of the wood, and perfectly fitted to the belly of the cello.

verb (bellies, bellying, bellied)

1Swell or cause to swell: [no object]: as she leaned forward her sweater bellied out [with object]: the wind bellied the sail out
More example sentences
  • As the sail unfurled and bellied out in the wind, it blocked the ferryman's view of the island.
  • And the sails were bellied out by the wind, and far from the coast were they joyfully borne past the Posideian headland.
  • Then the partitioning curtain bellied out ahead of a draught, and ashes from the fire scudded in among our bare feet.
billow (out), bulge (out), balloon (out), bag (out);
2 [no object] (belly up to) North American informal Move or sit close to (a bar or table): regulars who first bellied up to the bar years before
More example sentences
  • These shakes, and similar products, offer a quick way to chug some extra calories without having to belly up to the dining table yet again.
  • I knew Whiskey Bar had picked up a decent-sized market share (thanks in no small part to the quality of the commenters who belly up to the bar here) but I had no idea how much this kind of thing costs.
  • But now, even in Lexington, Kentucky - the heart of Tobacco Country - a man can no longer belly up to the bar and have a cold one and smoke.


go belly up

informal Go bankrupt.
Example sentences
  • Let me switch gears, because we only have a short time left, to talk about this Enron, this energy company that just went belly up, went bankrupt, causing a lot of pain for workers, their investors.
  • If they went belly up, bankrupt, shut down, and can't take their cruise ships out of port you would be there holding your bags quite literally and an expensive but useless ticket for your cruise.
  • After Nadia got the sack from her employers who went belly up as Americans call bankruptcy, she applied to ‘zillions’ of tech firms all over America.



Pronunciation: /ˈbelēd/
[usually in combination]: fat-bellied men


Old English belig 'bag', of Germanic origin, from a base meaning 'swell, be inflated'.

Words that rhyme with belly

Botticelli, casus belli, Corelli, Delhi, deli, Ellie, Grappelli, jelly, Kelly, lamellae, Machiavelli, Mahaweli, Schiaparelli, Shelley, shelly, smelly, tagliatelle, telly, Torricelli, vermicelli, welly, Zeffirelli

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: bel·ly

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