Definition of knell in English:


Syllabification: knell


  • 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, dong, resounding, reverberation; death knell
    archaic tocsin
  • 1.1Used in reference to an announcement, event, or sound that warns of the end of something: the decision will probably toll the knell for the facility
    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, death knell, death warrant


[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); 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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