bel·​ly | \ ˈbe-lē How to pronounce belly (audio) \
plural bellies

Definition of belly

 (Entry 1 of 2)

b : the stomach and its adjuncts
c : the undersurface of an animal's body also : hide from this part
d : womb, uterus
2a : an internal cavity : interior
b : a central place where something is most prevalent, concentrated, or deeply ingrained … he became the hottest songwriter in Nashville, an antiauthoritarian smack-dab in the belly of the establishment.— Tony Scherman often used in the phrase the belly of the beast to refer especially to a dangerous or hostile place or situation Meanwhile, the very best bodies of America are in prison, pumping iron in the belly of the beast.— Robert Lipsyte
3 : appetite for food
4 : a surface or object curved or rounded like a human belly
5a : the enlarged fleshy body of a muscle
b : the part of a sail that swells out when filled with wind


bellied; bellying

Definition of belly (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to cause to swell or fill out wind bellying the sails

intransitive verb

1 : swell, fill
2a : to slide or crawl on one's belly

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms & Antonyms for belly

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Noun

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of belly in a Sentence

Noun He got down on his belly to crawl. They slid down the snowy hill on their bellies. a gray squirrel with a white belly the belly of an airplane the belly of a ship Verb the sails slowly bellied as the wind picked up recruits were forced to belly over the obstacle course under simulated enemy fire
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun McDormand sported prosthetic breasts and a faux-pregnant belly packed with birdseed to help her physically ease into the role of Marge, modeling her take on the character after her sister, a chaplain at a maximum-security prison. Keaton Bell, Vogue, "Frances McDormand’s 10 Best Roles, From Fargo to Nomadland," 23 Apr. 2021 Maternity scrubs are cut to accommodate a growing belly and often have elastic or adjustable detail. Sian Babish,, "The best scrub for women," 5 Mar. 2021 A day after debuting his new (possibly) bald head, the YouTuber is showing off a very pregnant belly in a maternity photoshoot. Carolyn Twersky, Seventeen, "James Charles Just Got Completely Naked for a Sultry Pregnancy Photoshoot," 12 Feb. 2021 Mine, like many women, were accompanied with pain, a heavy period—that would soon result in changing my pad every two hours—and a protruding belly. Rose Afriyie, Glamour, "Freezing My Eggs In a Pandemic as a Black Woman Over 35," 9 Dec. 2020 Whoever picks the guard from Georgia will get a player with dynamite in his calves and plenty of confidence in his abilities, one with broad shoulders, a baby face and a belly full of hamburgers and chicken wings. Dan Woike, Los Angeles Times, "Anthony Edwards looks to be most NBA-ready draft prospect," 12 Nov. 2020 Suitor Jason shows up with a pregnant belly, playing homage to how Clare showed up for Juan Pablo's season. David Oliver, USA TODAY, "Clare Crawley debuts as 'The Bachelorette' in season premiere – but will she be sticking around for long?," 14 Oct. 2020 The mice share features like a thick, waterproof coat with a bright white belly; long, kangaroo-like feet; and big brains. Theresa Machemer, Smithsonian Magazine, "Two New Species of Semi-Aquatic Mice Identified in East African Rainforests," 14 Oct. 2020 Over the past few months, national and state polls have consistently indicated that a majority of American voters have had a belly full of President Donald Trump. Gilbert Garcia,, "Garcia: This year’s presidential debates mean more — and less — than ever," 26 Sep. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The see-ya-Miguel theory also ran into complications Tuesday: Arraez went on the concussion list for seven days after his foolish decision to belly slide into home plate on Monday. Star Tribune, "Byron Buxton's emergence gives Twins fans hope Miguel Sano eventually will figure things out," 4 May 2021 Earl, a beer-bellied alien with a quad-cannon and a trucker hat, drawls about the simple life with a southern accent. Cecilia D'anastasio, Wired, "Amazon's Crucible Magicks Gaming Clichés Into Something Fresh," 27 May 2020 Working quickly and in batches if necessary (adding more oil for the second batch if needed), arrange the dumplings belly side down in concentric circles starting from the outer edge. Susan Selasky, Detroit Free Press, "Chinese New Year recipe: Easy dumplings symbolize wealth and prosperity," 1 Feb. 2020 As loose-limbed a feel as the show boasts, though, this is an intricately staged and smartly conceived retelling of DiCamillo’s story about a mouse born with rampant curiosity, surprisingly large ears and an unusual lack of yellow-bellied-ness. James Hebert, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Review: ‘The Tale of Despereaux’ a charming and inventive musical take on children’s fable at Old Globe," 15 July 2019 The alder, least and yellow-bellied only occur as migrants. Taylor Piephoff, charlotteobserver, "Willow flycatchers are maddingly difficult to identify in the field," 13 June 2018 Say bye-bye to belly fat and hello to a new and improved you. David Zinczenko, Fox News, "'The Super Metabolism Diet' by David Zinczenko," 8 Jan. 2018 Patients have included dogs and cats, of course, but also a bearded dragon lizard, a hamster, a hedgehog and a pot-bellied pig. Nancy Dahlberg, miamiherald, "Customers give this South Florida startup two paws up | Miami Herald," 23 Feb. 2018 But giving them a run for the money will be the wildlife ambassadors that call the Science Center home: Ethel the opossum, Spooks the hognose snake, Sunny the yellow-bellied ball python and Mr. Six the three-toed box turtle. Faye Reeder, star-telegram, "Cocktails, appetizers, s’mores, jazz, stargazing and wildlife at Night With Nature | Fort Worth Star-Telegram," 25 Oct. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'belly.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of belly


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


1606, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

History and Etymology for belly


Middle English bely bellows, belly, from Old English belg bag, skin; akin to Old High German balg bag, skin, Old English blāwan to blow — more at blow entry 1


verbal derivative of belly entry 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about belly

Time Traveler for belly

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for belly

Last Updated

7 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Belly.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 14 May. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for belly



English Language Learners Definition of belly

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a person's stomach or the part of the body that contains the stomach
: the part of an animal's body that is like a person's belly
: a curved or rounded surface or part



English Language Learners Definition of belly (Entry 2 of 2)

: to cause (something, such as a sail) to curve or bulge outward


bel·​ly | \ ˈbe-lē How to pronounce belly (audio) \
plural bellies

Kids Definition of belly

1 : the front part of the body between the chest and the hips
2 : the under part of an animal's body
3 : stomach entry 1 sense 1 My belly was full.
4 : a space inside something cargo stored in the ship's belly


bel·​ly | \ ˈbel-ē How to pronounce belly (audio) \
plural bellies

Medical Definition of belly

b : the undersurface of an animal's body
c : womb, uterus
d : the stomach and its adjuncts
2 : the enlarged fleshy body of a muscle

Comments on belly

What made you want to look up belly? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

Words Used by Nabokov Quiz

  • image1676440788
  • Choose the best definition or synonym for the word in bold: "There are some eructations that sound like cheers—at least, mine did." Lolita
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

 AlphaBear 2

Spell words. Make bears.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!