bells and whistles

plural noun

Definition of bells and whistles

: items or features that are useful or decorative but not essential : frills

Examples of bells and whistles in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The sexiest bells and whistles on the Watch are the pseudo-medical devices. Alex Hutchinson, Outside Online, "First Look: Apple’s New Fitness+ Streaming Workouts," 14 Dec. 2020 In general, more expensive drones will fly longer and farther, take better images, and come with more bells and whistles. David Nield, Popular Science, "A beginner’s guide to buying your first drone," 6 Dec. 2020 Given all these bells and whistles, this therapy lamp doesn't usually come cheap—its standard list price is $219.99. Isabelle Kagan, USA TODAY, "The 5 best Amazon deals you can get this Thursday," 4 Dec. 2020 Ready to give your budding smart home some more bells and whistles? Erin Parker, Glamour, "58 Best Cyber Monday Tech Deals of 2020," 30 Nov. 2020 Play kitchens have come a long way in the past few years, and this one comes with all the bells and whistles fit for a mini chef. Tanya Edwards, CNN Underscored, "From babies to tweens, 24 clever gifts for kids of all ages," 25 Nov. 2020 Many focused on touting their bells and whistles such as bigger screens, the option to order food preflight, larger beds and enhanced mood lighting, said Peter Knapp, chairman and chief creative officer at Landor & Fitch, a branding agency. Alexandra Bruell, WSJ, "JetBlue Explores Fresh Marketing for a Post-Pandemic World," 13 Nov. 2020 Those who don't have one won't get much use out of the program and its bells and whistles., "Apple Just Unveiled A New Watch & A Fitness Streaming Service," 16 Sep. 2020 High-end racing wheels with highly responsive designs and plenty of bells and whistles cost $500 and above. Sian Babish,, "The best racing wheel," 12 Dec. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'bells and whistles.' 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 bells and whistles

1968, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for bells and whistles

Time Traveler

The first known use of bells and whistles was in 1968

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Statistics for bells and whistles

Last Updated

11 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Bells and whistles.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for bells and whistles

bells and whistles


English Language Learners Definition of bells and whistles

informal : parts and features that are useful or appealing but not essential or necessary

More from Merriam-Webster on bells and whistles

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for bells and whistles

Nglish: Translation of bells and whistles for Spanish Speakers

Comments on bells and whistles

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