bel·​ly | \ ˈbe-lē How to pronounce belly (audio) \
plural bellies

Definition of belly

 (Entry 1 of 2)

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

Synonyms & Antonyms for belly

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Noun

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Examples of belly in a Sentence

Noun 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 Verb the sails slowly bellied as the wind picked up recruits were forced to belly over the obstacle course under simulated enemy fire See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Or the landing-on-his-belly-on-the-run forehand that just barely missed against Ruud. Howard Fendrich,, 12 Sep. 2022 The Treasury Department appointed Feinberg special master in 2015 to distribute pension benefits to retirees in multiemployer pension funds whose employers had gone belly-up. Timothy Noah, The New Republic, 8 Sep. 2022 When Enron and Lehman Brothers went belly-up under suspicious circumstances, federal officials successfully lobbied bankruptcy judges to appoint an independent examiner to dig into what the heck happened. Jacob Carpenter, Fortune, 19 Aug. 2022 When oil went bust in the mid-’80s, Dunn was tasked with examining the books of small oil companies that had gone belly-up. Christopher Helman, Forbes, 18 Aug. 2022 That’s what the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation is letting the public know about the many squirrels that have been spotted sprawled out, belly-down, on city grounds. Fox News, 14 Aug. 2022 This is a guy who was a superstar in Miami, signing a 13-year, $325 million with the Marlins, only for the Marlins to go belly-up. Bob Nightengale, USA TODAY, 20 July 2022 The small business three of us started in 2016 may go belly-up this year. Lynne Curry | Alaska Workplace, Anchorage Daily News, 18 July 2022 Nights were spent at a small table in the boat’s belly, cushioned by a micro-suede banquette, eating Mopsy’s famous spaghetti Bolognese and playing hearts. New York Times, 24 June 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The see-ya-Miguel theory also ran into complications Tuesday: Arraez went on the concussion list for seven days after his foolish decision to belly slide into home plate on Monday. Star Tribune, 4 May 2021 Earl, a beer-bellied alien with a quad-cannon and a trucker hat, drawls about the simple life with a southern accent. Cecilia D'anastasio, Wired, 27 May 2020 Working quickly and in batches if necessary (adding more oil for the second batch if needed), arrange the dumplings belly side down in concentric circles starting from the outer edge. Susan Selasky, Detroit Free Press, 1 Feb. 2020 As loose-limbed a feel as the show boasts, though, this is an intricately staged and smartly conceived retelling of DiCamillo’s story about a mouse born with rampant curiosity, surprisingly large ears and an unusual lack of yellow-bellied-ness. James Hebert, San Diego Union-Tribune, 15 July 2019 The alder, least and yellow-bellied only occur as migrants. Taylor Piephoff, charlotteobserver, 13 June 2018 Say bye-bye to belly fat and hello to a new and improved you. David Zinczenko, Fox News, 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, 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, 25 Oct. 2017 See More

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.

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

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Last Updated

16 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Belly.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Sep. 2022.

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More Definitions for belly


bel·​ly | \ ˈbe-lē How to pronounce belly (audio) \
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 How to pronounce belly (audio) \
plural bellies

Medical Definition of belly

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

More from Merriam-Webster on belly

Nglish: Translation of belly for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of belly for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about belly

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