noun (1)
\ ˈbel How to pronounce bell (audio) \

Definition of bell

 (Entry 1 of 6)

1a : a hollow metallic device that gives off a reverberating sound when struck
b : doorbell
2a : the sounding of a bell as a signal
b : a stroke of a bell (as on shipboard) to indicate the time also : the time so indicated
c : a half hour period of a watch on shipboard indicated by the strokes of a bell — see Ship's Bells Table
3 : something having the form of a bell: such as
a : the corolla of a flower
b : a bell-shaped organ or part (such as the dewlap of a moose) especially : the bell- or saucer-shaped, largely gelatinous structure that forms the main part of the body of most jellyfish : umbrella entry 1 sense 3
c : the part of the capital of a column between the abacus and neck molding
d : the flared end of a wind instrument
e : the open mouth of a nozzle (such as of the exhaust of a jet engine) The heating was so intense … that the gas went rushing out the tail of the engine at 30,000 feet per second, or twice the speed at which exhaust leaves the bell of a conventional engine.— Jeffrey Kluger
4a : a percussion instrument consisting of metal bars or tubes that when struck give out tones resembling bells usually used in plural
get/have one's bell rung
US and Canada, sports, informal
: to be hit on the head : to suffer a concussion He had his bell rung on a blitz, and a short time later he was taken to Divine Providence Hospital.— Ralph Wiley
give (someone) a bell
British, informal
: to make a telephone call to Maybe Cowell can give him a bell towards the end of his marathon broadcast—that would certainly wake him up.— Mark Jefferies
bell table


verb (1)
belled; belling; bells

Definition of bell (Entry 2 of 6)

transitive verb

1 : to provide with a bell
2 : to flare the end of (something, such as a tube) into the shape of a bell

intransitive verb

: to take the form of a bell : flare
bell the cat
: to do a daring or risky deed


verb (2)
belled; belling; bells

Definition of bell (Entry 3 of 6)

intransitive verb

: to make a resonant bellowing or baying sound the wild buck bells from ferny brake— Sir Walter Scott


noun (2)

Definition of bell (Entry 4 of 6)


biographical name
\ ˈbel How to pronounce Bell (audio) \

Definition of Bell (Entry 5 of 6)

Alexander Graham 1847–1922 American (Scottish-born) inventor


geographical name
\ ˈbel How to pronounce Bell (audio) \

Definition of Bell (Entry 6 of 6)

city in southwestern California southeast of Los Angeles population 35,477

First Known Use of bell

Noun (1)

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Verb (1)

14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Verb (2)

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined above

Noun (2)

1510, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for bell

Noun (1)

Middle English belle, from Old English; perhaps akin to Old English bellan to roar — more at bellow

Verb (2)

Middle English, going back to Old English bellan "to roar" — more at bellow

Noun (2)

noun derivative of bell entry 3

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Time Traveler for bell

Time Traveler

The first known use of bell was before the 12th century

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Dictionary Entries Near bell

Belize City



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Cite this Entry

“Bell.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for bell


\ ˈbel How to pronounce bell (audio) \

Kids Definition of bell

1 : a hollow metallic device that is shaped somewhat like a cup and makes a ringing sound when struck
2 : doorbell
3 : the stroke or sound of a bell that tells the hour
4 : the time indicated by the stroke of a bell
5 : a half-hour period of watch on shipboard
6 : something shaped like a bell the bell of a trumpet


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