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

Shoes this bold don’t require a lot of bells and whistles either. Vogue, "Logo Shoes Are the Latest Aughts Fashion Revival," 19 Apr. 2019 Many baby boomers poured millions into these spacious homes, planning to live out their golden years in houses with all the bells and whistles. ... Candace Taylor, WSJ, "A Growing Problem in Real Estate: Too Many Too Big Houses," 21 Mar. 2019 The shoes still performed, and the bells and whistles still worked. Tim Reynolds, The Seattle Times, "Future is now: Nike’s next self-lacing shoe hitting shelves," 11 Feb. 2019 For the new product, DeepLens has been set on wheels and seen the addition of an extra battery and some other bells and whistles. Jason Levitt, Ars Technica, "Start your (machine learning) engines: Amazon’s DeepRacer is almost here," 21 Dec. 2018 The Astrodome was in just its fourth year of operation and was ready to show off all the bells and whistles for the NBC audience. Matt Young, Houston Chronicle, "Look back at the Astrodome's All-Star Game 50 years ago," 10 July 2018 Not enough bells and whistles to woo you to a new model? Elle Decor Staff, ELLE Decor, "Cell Mates," 5 July 2012 Effler says that when the study was first conducted more than 30 years ago, cars had fewer bells and whistles, so the survey did usually just evaluate the mechanics. Aditi Shrikant, Vox, "How James David Power III created the only car ranking company you’ve ever heard of.," 27 Nov. 2018 Beyond a fantasy kitchen’s bells and whistles, Porowski underscores the poignant value of a gathering place to cook. Vogue, "Queer Eye’s Antoni Porowski on his Dream Kitchen—And Why Ample Counter Space, a Massive Butcher Block, and “the Biggest Fridge Ever” Are Musts," 9 Nov. 2018

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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Statistics for bells and whistles

Last Updated

1 May 2019

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Time Traveler for bells and whistles

The first known use of bells and whistles was in 1968

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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

Nglish: Translation of bells and whistles for Spanish Speakers

Comments on bells and whistles

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


to speak slightingly about or to degrade

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