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 Aside from the free food, the nearly 4,900-square-foot restaurant located at 6305 South Gilmore Road has a ton of bells and whistles. Sarah Brookbank,, "Here's how to win free food for a year at Fairfield's Chick-fil-A," 14 Nov. 2019 There are a lot of bells and whistles like that intended to give the game a bit more gravity and counter the cartoony floaty-ness (for lack of a better term) of Diablo 3. Samuel Axon, Ars Technica, "Diablo 4 impressions: Soaking in dark atmosphere and feel-good combat," 9 Nov. 2019 There’s lot of little bells and whistles here and a great playing surface. Daniel Boyette, al, "James Clemens pulls away from Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa for 8th straight win," 2 Nov. 2019 If Derby Arboretum is the humblest of the five sites, then Chatsworth is easily the most lavish — a 105-acre garden with every horticultural bell and whistle, surrounding a palatial house still occupied by the 12th Duke and Duchess of Devonshire. New York Times, "The Parks That Made the Man Who Made Central Park," 30 Oct. 2019 With three starters sidelined, Kyle Shanahan removed some bells and whistles from his game plan, and the 49ers were functional. Eric Branch,, "49ers game grades vs. Rams: Hard to find much fault with this one," 13 Oct. 2019 For the rider who wants the ultimate in smart trainers with all of the bells and whistles, Wahoo’s recently updated Kickr has a lot to offer. Bradley Ford, Popular Mechanics, "The Best Indoor Trainers for Dedicated Cyclists," 7 Nov. 2019 All the bells and whistles can make pods quite expensive, too. Travis Deshong, Washington Post, "Whisky pods, walking pods, living pods: Are we pod people now?," 24 Oct. 2019 But in this production, the cast is strong enough to hold the attention without scenic bells and whistles. Matthew J. Palm,, "‘Les Miserables’: A beautiful message, beautifully told | Review," 23 Oct. 2019

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

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The first known use of bells and whistles was in 1968

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Statistics for bells and whistles

Last Updated

27 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Bells and whistles.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 12 December 2019.

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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

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a period of high artistic development

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