< /ˈkɜr ər/, pen name of Charlotte Brontë.

  • Ellis, pen name of Emily Brontë.
  • James ThomasCool Papa, 1903–91, U.S. baseball player, a Negro Leagues outfielder noted for his speed.
  • John,1797–1869, U.S. political leader: Speaker of the House 1834–35.
  • a city in SW California, near Los Angeles.
  • noun

    1. a hollow, usually metal, cup-shaped instrument that emits a musical ringing sound when struck, often by a clapper hanging inside it
    2. the sound made by such an instrument or device, as for showing the hours or marking the beginning or end of a period of time
    3. an electrical device that rings or buzzes as a signal
    4. the bowl-shaped termination of the tube of certain musical wind instruments, such as the trumpet or oboe
    5. any musical percussion instrument emitting a ringing tone, such as a glockenspiel, one of a set of hand bells, etcCompare chime 1 (def. 3)
    6. nautical a signal rung on a ship’s bell to count the number of half-hour intervals during each of six four-hour watches reckoned from midnight. Thus, one bell may signify 12.30, 4.30, or 8.30 a.m. or p.m
    7. See diving bell
    8. biology a structure resembling a bell in shape, such as the corolla of certain flowers or the body of a jellyfish
    9. British slang a telephone call (esp in the phrase give someone a bell)
    10. beat seven bells out of or knock seven bells out of British informal to give a severe beating to
    11. bell, book, and candle
      1. instruments used formerly in excommunications and other ecclesiastical acts
      2. informalthe solemn ritual ratification of such acts
    12. ring a bell to sound familiar; recall to the mind something previously experienced, esp indistinctly
    13. sound as a bell in perfect condition
    14. the bells the ringing of bells, in a church or other public building, at midnight on December 31st, symbolizing the beginning of a new year


    1. to be or cause to be shaped like a bell
    2. (tr) to attach a bell or bells to
    3. bell the cat to undertake a dangerous mission


    1. a bellowing or baying cry, esp that of a hound or a male deer in rut


    1. to utter (such a cry)


    1. Acton, Currer (ˈkʌrə), and Ellis . pen names of the sisters Anne, Charlotte, and Emily BrontëSee Brontë
    2. Alexander Graham . 1847–1922, US scientist, born in Scotland, who invented the telephone (1876)
    3. Sir Francis Henry Dillon . 1851–1936, New Zealand statesman; prime minister of New Zealand (1925)
    4. Gertrude (Margaret Lowthian). 1868–1926, British traveller, writer, and diplomat; secretary to the British High Commissioner in Baghdad (1917–26)
    5. Joshua. born 1967, US violinist
    6. Dame (Susan) Jocelyn, married name Jocelyn Burnell, born 1943, British radio astronomer, who discovered the first pulsar
    7. Vanessa, original name Vanessa Stephen . 1879–1961, British painter; a member of the Bloomsbury group, sister of Virginia Woolf and wife of the art critic Clive Bell (1881–1964)

    Old English belle, common North Sea Germanic (cf. Middle Dutch belle, Middle Low German belle) but not found elsewhere in Germanic (except as a borrowing), from PIE root *bhel- (4) “to sound, roar.” Statistical bell curve was coined 1870s in French. Of glasses in the shape of a bell from 1640s. Bell pepper is from 1707, so called for its shape. Bell, book, and candle is a reference to a form of excommunication. To ring a bell “awaken a memory” (1934) is perhaps a reference to Pavlovian experiments.


    “attach a bell,” late 14c., from bell (n.). Related: Belled; belling. Allusions to the story of the mice that bell the cat (so they can hear him coming) date to 1520s.

    1. British anatomist and surgeon who published detailed anatomies of the nervous system and the brain. He was the first to distinguish between sensory and motor nerves. Bell’s Law and Bell’s palsy are named for him.

    1. Scottish-born American scientist and inventor whose lifelong interest in the education of deaf people led him to conceive the idea of transmitting speech by electric waves. In 1876 his experiments with a telegraph resulted in his invention of the telephone. He later produced the first successful sound recorder, an early hearing aid, and many other devices.

    In addition to the idiom beginning with bell

    • bell the cat, who will

    also see:

    • clear as a bell
    • ring a bell
    • saved by the bell
    • sound as a bell
    • with bells on

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