Definition of knell in English:


Line breaks: knell
Pronunciation: /nɛl


[in singular]
1The sound of a bell, especially when rung solemnly for a death or funeral.
More example sentences
  • I was sure anyone within five miles would have heard it the way they hear a church bell's knell or a train's whistle.
  • The very word is like a knell, signalling the approach of death.
  • As the knell died away, a black flag slowly rose up the mast and stopped half-way.
toll, tolling, ringing, chime, clang, dong, peal, stroke, resounding, reverberation, clangour, boom;
archaic knoll, tocsin
1.1Used in reference to an announcement, event, or sound that warns of the end of something: emails and text messages are sounding the knell for the written word
More example sentences
  • If you fear this may be just one more story to sound a warning knell about the IT skills shortage - not to worry.
  • The huntsman's horn sounded the final knell when the last traditional hunt by the Tedworth came to en end.
end, beginning of the end, presage of the end, death knell;
death sentence, death warrant;
omen, evil omen, ill omen, portent, warning


[no object] Back to top  
1(Of a bell) ring solemnly, especially for a death or funeral.
1.1 [with object] Proclaim (something) by or as if by a knell.
More example sentences
  • I could almost hear the two-tone foghorns knelling my demise.


Old English cnyll (noun), cnyllan (verb), of West Germanic origin; related to Dutch knal (noun), knallen (verb) 'bang, pop, crack'. The current spelling (dating from the 16th century) is perhaps influenced by bell1.

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