1. A vessel or hollow body, used for making sounds. Its constituent parts are a barrel or hollow body, enlarged or expanded at one end, an ear or cannon by which it is hung to a beam, and a clapper on the inside. It is formed of a composition of metals. Bells are of high antiquity. The blue tunic of the Jewish High Priest was adorned with golden bells; and the kings of Persia are said to have the hem of their robe adorned with them in like manner. Among the Greeks, those who went the nightly rounds in camps or garrisons, used to ring a bell at each sentinel-box, to see that the soldier on duty was awake. Bells were also put on the necks of criminals, to warn persons to move out of the way of so ill an omen, as the sight of a criminal or his executioner; also on the necks of beasts and birds, and in houses. In churches and other public buildings, bells are now used to notify the time of meeting of any congregation or other assembly.
In private houses, bells are used to call servants, either hung and moved by a wire, or as hand-bells. Small bells are also used in electrical experiments.
2. A hollow body of metal, perforated, and containing a solid ball, to give sounds when shaken; used on animals, as on horses or hawks.
3. Any thing in form of a bell as the cup or calix of a flower.
To bear the bell is to be the first or leader, in allusion to the bell-wether of a flock, or the leading horse of a team or drove, that wears bells on his collar.
To shake the bells, a phrase of Shakespeare, signifies to move, give notice or alarm.
BELL, verb intransitive To grow in the form of bells, as buds or flowers.
BELL'-FASHIONED, adjective Having the form of a bell