bel·​lows | \ ˈbe-(ˌ)lōz How to pronounce bellows (audio) , -ləz \

Definition of bellows

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : an instrument or machine that by alternate expansion and contraction draws in air through a valve or orifice and expels it through a tube also : any of various other blowers
2 : lungs
3 : the pleated expansible part in a camera also : a metallic or plastic flexible and expansible vessel


biographical name
Bel·​lows | \ ˈbe-(ˌ)lōz How to pronounce Bellows (audio) \

Definition of Bellows (Entry 2 of 2)

George Wesley 1882–1925 American painter

Examples of bellows in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun, plural in form but singular or plural in construction The labor of these dogs, whose hours are as exactly regulated as those of their human fellow laborers, consists in furnishing motive power to the bellows, which fan the furnaces of the atéliers. Dan Schlenoff, Scientific American, "50, 100 & 150 Years Ago: April 2021," 15 Mar. 2021 My breath was roaring now, in and out, my lungs enormous bellows that would not tolerate my death. Ann Patchett, Harper's Magazine, "These Precious Days," 5 Jan. 2021 Crunched the wafer-ice on the pot-holes, Somebody wistfully twisted the bellows wheel. Michael Brendan Dougherty, National Review, "The Content of Our Christmases," 25 Dec. 2020 Other portions of the organ, such as the sideboard, a few bellows and multiple pipes, are too delicate or difficult to remove and will be cleaned at the cathedral, per the Art Newspaper. Isis Davis-marks, Smithsonian Magazine, "Inside the Monumental Effort to Restore Notre-Dame’s Grand Organ," 11 Dec. 2020 Sometimes the only way to feed enough O2 into the coal bed is with a bellows. The Editors, Outdoor Life, "3 Essential Tools for the Home Hearth," 11 Nov. 2020 Fireplace bellows are measured by their length and width. Anthony Marcusa,, "The best fireplace bellow," 7 Oct. 2020 Like blacksmiths working bellows, the dinosaurs flexed their jaws to force air in and out of the chambers, causing moisture to evaporate and wick away heat, like sweat on a summer day. National Geographic, "DINOSAURS," 15 Sep. 2020 My guts have been emptied like bellows for the best sound. Valzhyna Mort, The New Yorker, "To Antigone, a Dispatch," 24 Aug. 2020

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

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First Known Use of bellows

Noun, plural in form but singular or plural in construction

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

History and Etymology for bellows

Noun, plural in form but singular or plural in construction

Middle English bely, below, belwes — more at belly

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Time Traveler for bellows

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for bellows

Last Updated

22 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Bellows.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for bellows



English Language Learners Definition of bellows

: a device that produces a strong current of air when its sides are pressed together


noun plural
bel·​lows | \ ˈbe-lōz How to pronounce bellows (audio) , -ləz \

Kids Definition of bellows

: a device that produces a strong current of air when its sides are pressed together
Hint: Bellows can be used as a singular or a plural. The bellows were used to start the fire. The bellows is on the hearth.


noun plural but singular or plural in construction
bel·​lows | \ ˈbel-(ˌ)ōz, -əz How to pronounce bellows (audio) \

Medical Definition of bellows

: lungs

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