n. & v.
n. 1 a hollow usu. metal object in the shape of a deep upturned cup usu. widening at the lip, made to sound a clear musical note when struck (either externally or by means of a clapper inside). 2 a a sound or stroke of a bell, esp. as a signal. b (prec. by a numeral) Naut. the time as indicated every half-hour of a watch by the striking of the ship's bell one to eight times. 3 anything that sounds like or functions as a bell, esp. an electronic device that rings etc. as a signal. 4 a any bell-shaped object or part, e.g. of a musical instrument. b the corolla of a flower when bell-shaped. 5 (in pl.) Mus. a set of cylindrical metal tubes of different lengths, suspended in a frame and played by being struck with a hammer.
v.tr. 1 provide with a bell or bells; attach a bell to. 2 (foll. by out) form into the shape of the lip of a bell. bell-bottom 1 a marked flare below the knee (of a trouser-leg). 2 (in pl.) trousers with bell-bottoms. bell-bottomed having bell-bottoms. bell-buoy a buoy equipped with a warning bell rung by the motion of the sea. bell-founder a person who casts large bells in a foundry. bell-glass a bell-shaped glass cover for plants. bell-jar a bell-shaped glass cover or container for use in a laboratory. bell-metal an alloy of copper and tin for making bells (the tin content being greater than in bronze). bell-pull a cord or handle which rings a bell when pulled. bell-push a button that operates an electric bell when pushed. bell-ringer a person who rings church bells or handbells. bell-ringing this as an activity. bell-tent a cone-shaped tent supported by a central pole. bell-wether 1 the leading sheep of a flock, with a bell on its neck. 2 a ringleader. clear (or sound) as a bell perfectly clear or sound. ring a bell colloq. revive a distant recollection; sound familiar.
[ OE belle: perh. rel. to BELL(2) ]