Definition of bellows in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈbɛləʊz/

plural noun

[also treated as singular]
Image of bellows
1 (also a pair of bellows) A device with an air bag that emits a stream of air when squeezed together with two handles, used for blowing air into a fire: stoking up the fire with the bellows
More example sentences
  • He opened an agricultural museum which included a gigantic pair of bellows, seven or eight feet tall.
  • They blow bellows at them to simulate a strong wind and then light torches to simulate the imagined layer of fire in the sky.
  • When dry, any loose smalt was to be brushed off with a feather or blown off with a bellows.
1.1A device similar to a pair of bellows used in a harmonium or small organ.
Example sentences
  • Clavichords were particularly popular with organists because they could practise on them at home instead of in a cold church, and without the need to pay someone to pump the organ bellows.
  • The poor starving little church mice had chewed their way through the bellows of the church organ.
  • I wondered what powered it, since it didn't have a bellows like an accordion or pipe organ, and he didn't seem to be blowing into it.
2An object or device with concertinaed sides to allow it to expand and contract, such as a tube joining a lens to a camera body.
Example sentences
  • We knew we would have to magnify the drop for final measurements, so we used a medium-format camera and 120-millimeter macro lens on a bellows.
  • Such calculations work out very neatly if you always double your focal length, but get a bit more complicated for odd bellows or lens extensions.
  • The bellows moves a valve body in accordance with pressure introduced into the pressure sensing chamber.


Middle English: probably from Old English belga, plural of belig (see belly), used as a shortened form of earlier blǣstbelig 'blowing bag'.

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: bel|lows

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