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

Definition of bellows

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

Examples of bellows in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The Federal Reserve’s zero-interest-rate policy has pumped those hot-air bellows ever since. Andy Kessler, WSJ, 15 May 2022 The reptiles essentially use the far end of their lungs as a bellows to pull in air whenever the ribs closer to the head are obstructed. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, 24 Mar. 2022 For example, vocalizations of birds or deep-throated bellows of bullfrogs can tell researchers what was nearby. Washington Post, 24 Apr. 2022 Capano compares the motion to a bellows drawing air in through its nozzle. Katherine J. Wu, The Atlantic, 24 Mar. 2022 The work-from-home revolution is pumping the bellows. Shawn Tully, Fortune, 20 Jan. 2022 High winds acted as bellows, causing the fires to spread through the unusually dry trees and grass with shocking speed. Los Angeles Times, 4 Jan. 2022 At the mouth of the shaft, workers loaded the ore onto donkeys or their own backs and bore it to the charcoal-burning furnaces, knee-high clay urns attached to bellows that sent up plumes of smoke from the center of the mining complex. Matti Friedman, Smithsonian Magazine, 17 Nov. 2021 Using bellows, steelworkers increased the temperatures of their coal fires to nearly three thousand degrees—hot enough to melt iron in large quantities. Matthew Hutson, The New Yorker, 18 Sep. 2021 See More

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.

First Known Use of bellows

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

History and Etymology for bellows

Middle English bely, below, belwes — more at belly

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Time Traveler for bellows

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

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Last Updated

21 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Bellows.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for bellows


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

Medical Definition of bellows

: lungs

Bellows biographical name

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

Definition of Bellows

George Wesley 1882–1925 American painter


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