bell 1 (bĕl)
1. A hollow metal musical instrument, usually cup-shaped with a flared opening, that emits a metallic tone when struck.
2. Something resembling such an instrument in shape or sound, as:
a. The round, flared opening of a wind instrument at the opposite end from the mouthpiece.
b. bells A percussion instrument consisting of metal tubes or bars that emit tones when struck.
c. A hollow, usually inverted vessel, such as one used for diving deep below the surface of a body of water.
d. The corolla of a flower: "In a cowslip's bell I lie" (Shakespeare).
e. The body of a jellyfish.
a. A stroke on a hollow metal instrument to mark the hour.
b. The time indicated by the striking of this instrument, divided into half hours.
v. belled, bell·ing, bells
1. To put a bell on.
2. To cause to flare like a bell.
To assume the form of a bell; flare.
bell the cat
To perform a daring act.
[Middle English belle, from Old English.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.