bel·ly | \ˈbe-lē \
plural bellies

Definition of belly 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1a : abdomen sense 1 also : potbelly sense 1

b : the stomach and its adjuncts

c : the undersurface of an animal's body also : hide from this part

d : womb, uterus

2a : an internal cavity : interior

b : a central place where something is most prevalent, concentrated, or deeply ingrained … he became the hottest songwriter in Nashville, an antiauthoritarian smack-dab in the belly of the establishment.— Tony Scherman often used in the phrase the belly of the beast to refer especially to a dangerous or hostile place or situation Meanwhile, the very best bodies of America are in prison, pumping iron in the belly of the beast.— Robert Lipsyte

3 : appetite for food

4 : a surface or object curved or rounded like a human belly

5a : the enlarged fleshy body of a muscle

b : the part of a sail that swells out when filled with wind


bellied; bellying

Definition of belly (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to cause to swell or fill out wind bellying the sails

intransitive verb

1 : swell, fill

2a : to slide or crawl on one's belly

b : belly-land

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Examples of belly in a Sentence


He got down on his belly to crawl. They slid down the snowy hill on their bellies. a gray squirrel with a white belly the belly of an airplane the belly of a ship


the sails slowly bellied as the wind picked up recruits were forced to belly over the obstacle course under simulated enemy fire
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

With the sound of water echoing in the background, these spaces feel like being in the belly of a slave ship. Blair Kamin,, "The national African-American museum still stirs the soul — and drops hints of what to expect at the Obama Presidential Center," 11 July 2018 Plastic has been discovered in the bellies of dead whales and the decomposed stomachs of seabirds that mistook it for food. Author: Darryl Fears, Kate Furby, Anchorage Daily News, "A giant wave of plastic garbage could flood the US, a study says," 22 June 2018 That work is especially evident in Tunnel 1, where the rough rock walls look like the belly of a beast, partially blackened by soot from trains that passed through until 1964. Chelsey Lewis, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "3 old railroad tunnels help make the Elroy-Sparta Trail one of the state's most popular," 21 June 2018 The 10 of them quietly explored their floating digs in the twilight, dispersing in parties of two or three into the belly of the ship, looking for adventure. Oddur Thorisson, Condé Nast Traveler, "Traveling in Venice With Kids," 21 June 2018 My new car was stolen from my driveway in the middle of the night in suburban Chicago and the police embarked on a 12-hour search to retrieve my car in the belly of the city. NBC News, "At a loss: How losing a loved one can help you take stock of what really matters," 17 June 2018 The four-year-old is filling the bellies of homeless people and making them feel loved. Danielle Barker, USA TODAY, "'Superhero' four-year-old is on a mission to feed the hungry," 25 May 2018 That defender bites on the run, Patterson pulls the ball from the belly of the back and gets 1-on-1 coverage with his receiver for a big play. Nick Baumgardner, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan football, Shea Patterson and the RPO: What's it all mean?," 22 May 2018 There's a big difference between going outside briefly during hot temperatures and being stuck in the belly of a plane for an extended time, Thompson said. Dawn Gilbertson, azcentral, "American, United ban pets in cargo on summer flights in Phoenix, other desert cities," 21 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Say bye-bye to belly fat and hello to a new and improved you. David Zinczenko, Fox News, "'The Super Metabolism Diet' by David Zinczenko," 8 Jan. 2018 Patients have included dogs and cats, of course, but also a bearded dragon lizard, a hamster, a hedgehog and a pot-bellied pig. Nancy Dahlberg, miamiherald, "Customers give this South Florida startup two paws up | Miami Herald," 23 Feb. 2018 But giving them a run for the money will be the wildlife ambassadors that call the Science Center home: Ethel the opossum, Spooks the hognose snake, Sunny the yellow-bellied ball python and Mr. Six the three-toed box turtle. Faye Reeder, star-telegram, "Cocktails, appetizers, s’mores, jazz, stargazing and wildlife at Night With Nature | Fort Worth Star-Telegram," 25 Oct. 2017 Though some stars are the types of muscular super-humans who populate sports like football and basketball, others are lanky, beer-bellied, stocky, or short. Alex Putterman, The Atlantic, "Jose Altuve, Baseball’s Unlikeliest Superstar," 6 Oct. 2017 Instead, the presidents have bellied their schools up to the bar and really opened the tap. Gregg Doyel, Indianapolis Star, "Doyel: FBI confirms NCAA doesn't run NCAA basketball. Shoe companies do.," 28 Sep. 2017 Stunning red berries appear in late summer and fall that attractive a number of birds, including the yellow bellied sapsucker. Jill Sell,, "Late summer and fall blooming plants add beauty to any yard," 13 Aug. 2017 The bar opened its doors in 1852 as Peter King’s Granite Store, a general mercantile, where miners could belly up to the bar — planks plunked atop barrels — and get a drink. Jackie Burrell, The Mercury News, "Yosemite: 5 ways to play in charming Groveland," 25 Feb. 2017 As the crowd behind her clapped and cheered, the Distinguished Young Woman of Georgia, Olivia Pelton of Milledgeville, Ga., downed 57 raw oysters, making her the winner among the nine contestants who bellied up to the restaurant's oyster bar. Michelle Matthews,, "Distinguished Young Women down dozens of oysters in annual contest," 26 June 2017

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


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


1606, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

History and Etymology for belly


Middle English bely bellows, belly, from Old English belg bag, skin; akin to Old High German balg bag, skin, Old English blāwan to blow — more at blow entry 1


verbal derivative of belly entry 1

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Phrases Related to belly

belly up to

Statistics for belly

Last Updated

26 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for belly

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

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More Definitions for belly



English Language Learners Definition of belly

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a person's stomach or the part of the body that contains the stomach

: the part of an animal's body that is like a person's belly

: a curved or rounded surface or part



English Language Learners Definition of belly (Entry 2 of 2)

: to cause (something, such as a sail) to curve or bulge outward


bel·ly | \ˈbe-lē \
plural bellies

Kids Definition of belly

1 : the front part of the body between the chest and the hips

2 : the under part of an animal's body

3 : stomach entry 1 sense 1 My belly was full.

4 : a space inside something cargo stored in the ship's belly


bel·ly | \ˈbel-ē \
plural bellies

Medical Definition of belly 

1a : abdomen sense 1a

b : the undersurface of an animal's body

c : womb, uterus

d : the stomach and its adjuncts

2 : the enlarged fleshy body of a muscle

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