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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Synonyms & Antonyms for belly

Synonyms: Noun

appetite, emptiness, famishment, hunger, munchies, stomach

Synonyms: Verb

bag, balloon, beetle, billow, bulge, bunch, jut, overhang, poke, pooch [chiefly dialect], pouch, pout, project, protrude, stand out, start, stick out, swell

Antonyms: Noun


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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

In the picture, snapped just off-stage at the Grand Ole Opry, Carrie clasps her hands in front of her, framing a growing belly. Taysha Murtaugh, Country Living, "Carrie Underwood Just Shared Her First Baby Bump Photo Since Announcing Her Pregnancy," 13 Aug. 2018 The Chilean poet-architect Smiljan Radic sent one of the very few flesh-and-blood objects, a Dada-esque collage of a violin bow suspending part of a violin’s belly on strands of its horsehair. Joseph Giovannini, New York Times, "Swiss Institute Has a New Home Ready-Made for Art," 28 June 2018 Blue Apron is also serving up a belly full of woe to investors. The Economist, "Upstart meal-kit companies may need a new recipe for growth," 12 Apr. 2018 This cream is made with a nourishing combination of shea butter and vitamin E, a great mix for moisturizing a growing belly and preventing stretch marks. Lisa Desantis,, "Khloe Kardashian Swears By This $11 Belly Butter to Prevent Stretch Marks," 15 Mar. 2018 Their coloring is dark gray or bluish-black, with pale gray undersides and a belly marked with irregular white blotches. National Geographic, "Exclusive: Rare, Mysterious Whales Filmed Professionally for the First Time," 9 Mar. 2018 Fox squirrels have a rusty belly and a black outline to their tail. Sheryl Devore, Lake County News-Sun, "Know your squirrels: Fox and gray species found in Lake County," 12 Jan. 2018 Wednesday night, Slick Woods strutted down the runway at Rihanna’s Savage x Fenty Garden of Eden biodome wearing mostly only pasties, her pregnant belly on full display. Vogue, "Slick Woods Gives Birth to a Baby Boy Just Hours After Walking in the Savage x Fenty Show," 14 Sep. 2018 Slick Woods hit the Savage runway wearing pasties and a cut-out bodysuit, rubbing her pregnant belly, reveling in her womanhood. Jessica Andrews, Teen Vogue, "Rihanna's Savage X Fenty New York Fashion Week Show Celebrated Women," 13 Sep. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The alder, least and yellow-bellied only occur as migrants. Taylor Piephoff, charlotteobserver, "Willow flycatchers are maddingly difficult to identify in the field," 13 June 2018 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

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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Statistics for belly

Last Updated

5 Dec 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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More from Merriam-Webster on belly

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with belly

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for belly

Spanish Central: Translation of belly

Nglish: Translation of belly for Spanish Speakers

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

Comments on belly

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to make faulty or ineffective

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