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

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 The new landing page will have some additional bells and whistles, too. Patricia Hernandez, The Verge, "YouTube Gaming will be a part of the main experience now," 18 Sep. 2018 In Gurnee, the production is a much more high-tech affair using 3D projection mapping and other bells and whistles. Lori Rackl,, "First look: Great Wolf Lodge Illinois ready to welcome guests, Chance the Rapper," 21 June 2018 In Gurnee, the production is a much more high-tech affair using 3D projection mapping and other bells and whistles. Emily K. Coleman, Lake County News-Sun, "Chance the Rapper leads camp kids in test run at Great Wolf Lodge, Gurnee's newly renovated water park," 21 June 2018 This dual-fan RX 580 features a 1,380 MHz base clock, a 1,435 MHz boost clock, and should deliver an impeccable 1080p gaming experience with all the in-game graphical bells and whistles enabled. Ian Paul, PCWorld, "ASRock's bundling an 8GB Radeon RX 580 graphics card with a B350 Ryzen motherboard for $300," 11 July 2018 This is why fans love this game so much, because of all the care and all the depth and all the bells and whistles. Eric Single,, "How Virtual Sports Illustrated Covers Made It Into EA Sports’s NCAA Football Series," 10 July 2018 Some of the new bells and whistles will include a new scoreboard and fan-friendly restrooms and retail space. Craig Hlavaty, Houston Chronicle, "See what the University of Houston's new Fertitta Center will look like soon," 22 June 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.

See More

First Known Use of bells and whistles

1968, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about bells and whistles

Share bells and whistles

Statistics for bells and whistles

Last Updated

11 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for bells and whistles

The first known use of bells and whistles was in 1968

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for bells and whistles

bells and whistles


English Language Learners Definition of bells and whistles

: 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).


living or existing for a long time

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Late Autumn 2018 Words of the Day Quiz

  • frosted-autumn-leaves
  • Which is a synonym of yahoo?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

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