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1. a hollow instrument of cast metal, typically cup-shaped with a flaring mouth, suspended from the vertex and rung by the strokes of a clapper, hammer, or the like.
2. the stroke or sound of such an instrument: We rose at the bell.
3. anything in the form of a bell.
4. the large end of a funnel, or the end of a pipe, tube, or any musical wind instrument, when its edge is turned out and enlarged.
5. Archit.the underlying part of a foliated capital.
a. any of the half-hour units of nautical time rung on the bell of a ship.
b. each individual ring of the bell, counted with others to reckon the time: It is now four bells.
c. a signal on the telegraph of a large power vessel, made between the navigating officers and the engineer.
7. Zool.umbrella .
8. Bot.the bell-shaped corolla of a flower.
9. Metall.a conical lid that seals the top of a blast furnace and lowers to admit a charge.
10. ring a bell, to evoke a memory, esp. a vague or partial recollection; remind one of something: His name rings a bell but I can''t remember him.
11. ring the bell, to provide what is desired; be satisfactory or successful: This new book rings the bell with teenagers.
12. saved by the bell,
a. saved from a knockout by the ringing of a gong signaling the end of a round.
b. spared from anticipated trouble by some extraneous event.
13. with bells on, Informal.eagerly; ready to enjoy oneself: Just say when, and we''ll be there with bells on.
This interesting surname, with variant spellings Bel and Belle, has a number of possible derivations. Firstly, it may be a metonymic occupational name for a bellringer or bellfounder, or a topographical name for someone living "at the bell"; this indicates either residence by an actual bell or "at the sign of the Bell", deriving from the Middle English, Olde English pre 7th Century "belle" meaning bell. Secondly, it may have derived from the medieval given name "Bel". As a man''s name this is from the Old French "beu, bel" meaning "handsome", which was also used as a nickname. As a female name it represents a short form of Isobel, a form of Elizabeth. Finally, it may be an Anglicized form of the Gaelic "MacGiolla Mhaoil", "son of the servant of the devotee". The surname dates back to the mid 12th Century
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