See also: Bellows


The bellows for a church organ


English Wikipedia has an article on:
Hand bellows
  • (US) IPA(key): /ˈbɛl.oʊz/
  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˈbɛl.əʊz/
  • (now dialectal) IPA(key): /ˈbɛl.əs/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɛləʊz

Etymology 1Edit

From Middle English belwes, plural of belu, belwe, a northern form of beli, from Old English bæliġ, northern form of bielġ, from Proto-Germanic *balgiz. Compare German Balg. See also belly.

For the pronunciation /ˈbɛl.əs/, compare bodice, gallows.


bellows (plural bellows)

  1. A device for delivering pressurized air in a controlled quantity to a controlled location. At its most simple terms a bellows is a container which is deformable in such a way as to alter its volume which has an outlet or outlets where one wishes to blow air.
    When wood fires were common, so were bellows for helping start them.
    • 1913, Joseph C. Lincoln, chapter 8, in Mr. Pratt's Patients:
      That concertina was a wonder in its way. The handles that was on it first was wore out long ago, and he'd made new ones of braided rope yarn. And the bellows was patched in more places than a cranberry picker's overalls.
  2. Any flexible container or enclosure, as one used to cover a moving joint.
  3. (informal or archaic) The lungs.
    • 1846 October 1 – 1848 April 1, Charles Dickens, Dombey and Son, London: Bradbury and Evans, [], published 1848, →OCLC:
      “Why, who should J. B. mean by Joe, but old Joe Bagstock—Joseph—your slave—Joe, Ma’am? Here! Here’s the man! Here are the Bagstock bellows, Ma’am!” cried the Major, striking himself a sounding blow on the chest.
  4. (photography) Flexible, light-tight enclosures connecting the lensboard and the camera back.
  5. (figuratively) That which fans the fire of hatred, jealousy, etc.
Usage notesEdit
  • "Bellows" is used with both singular and plural verbs. One can even find "A bellows is/was".
Derived termsEdit
Related termsEdit


bellows (third-person singular simple present bellowses, present participle bellowsing, simple past and past participle bellowsed)

  1. (intransitive, transitive) To operate a bellows; to direct air at (something) using a bellows.
    • 1860 December – 1861 August, Charles Dickens, Great Expectations [], volume (please specify |volume=I to III), London: Chapman and Hall, [], published October 1861, →OCLC:
      [] I was recommended to the place as a man who could give another man as good as he brought, and I took it. It’s easier than bellowsing and hammering.
    • 1915, John G. Neihardt, The Song of Hugh Glass[1], New York: Macmillan, Part 2, p. 34:
      So bellowsed, all the kindled soul of Hugh
      Became a still white hell of brooding ire,
      And through his veins regenerating fire
      Ran, driving out the lethargy of pain.
    • 1920, Arthur Guiterman, “Thunder-Storm”, in Ballads of Old New York[2], New York: Harper & Bros., page 49:
      The smiths of the heavens are mending the weather;
      Their hammers are beating the fragments together.
      The cumulus mountains with nebulous gorges
      Are dazzled with flame of the wind-bellowsed forges;
    • 1966, Anthony Burgess, Tremor of Intent: An Eschatological Spy Novel[3], New York: Norton, Part 3, Chapter 6, p. 173:
      He almost let the cigar go out. ‘Good God, no. We’re both exiles, aren’t we?’ He bellowsed the end red again and continued, delicate as a musician, his scoring.
    • 1999, Ferdinand Mount, Jem (and Sam), New York: Carroll & Graf, Chapter 10, p. 397,[4]
      This is a capricious devil, the furnace, though I say it myself, and it wants regular bellowsing.
  2. (intransitive, figuratively) To expand and contract like a bellows.
    • 1904, A. R. Sennett, chapter 6, in Across the Great Saint Bernard: The Modes of Nature and the Manners of Man[5], London: Bemrose & Sons, page 389:
      [] [the dogs] sprang up, and, with a grand spraying of the crisp snow as they fleetly clambered up the steep side, they were with us in an incredibly short time, with pink tongues protruding, sides bellowsing, and sterns wagging.
    • 1933, John Steinbeck, chapter 1, in The Red Pony[6], New York: Viking, published 1945, page 48:
      The pony still lay on his side and the wound in his throat bellowsed in and out.
    • 1978, Stephen King, chapter 25, in The Stand, New York: Random House, published 2012, page 196:
      A sick-looking dog sat in the middle of the road, head down, sides bellowsing, white foam dripping from its muzzle to the heat-shimmering pavement.
    • 1998, Loren D. Estleman, chapter 6, in Jitterbug[7], New York: Tom Doherty Associates, page 53:
      The old man laughed without making a sound. His chest bellowsed and he opened his mouth to display a horseshoe of gold molars.
  3. (transitive) To fold up like a bellows; to accordion.
    • 1916, Roger Pocock, Horses, London: John Murray, 2nd edition, 1917, Chapter 6, pp. 170-171,[8]
      Without being tight [] the boot leg should fit close. The ankle should be supple as a stocking, and “bellowsed” to make sure of suppleness.
    • 1986, Will D. Campbell, chapter 9, in Forty Acres and a Goat[9], Atlanta: Peachtree, page 185:
      [] the chairman of the gathered scholars [] [shushed] the black waiters preparing to feed us a hefty lunch behind the bellowsed dividing wall with the impatient yell, “You’re disturbing our meeting,” while we discussed their plight on our side of the wall.
    • 1994, Timothy West, I’m Here I Think, Where Are You? Letters from a touring actor, London: Hodder & Stoughton, published 1995, page 139:
      [The bus] rolled swiftly down the hill and bellowsed five parked cars []

Etymology 2Edit

See bellow



  1. plural of bellow



  1. third-person singular simple present indicative form of bellow