bowels pl (plural only)

  1. The deepest or innermost part.
    down in the bowels of the Earth
  2. The concept or quality that defines something at its very core.
    the project's bowels
  3. The intestines.
  4. Compassion, sympathy.
    • 1599, William Shakespeare, “The Life of Henry the Fift”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies [] (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358, [Act II, scene iv]:
      Therefore in fierce tempest is he coming, / In thunder and in earthquake, like a Jove, / That, if requiring fail, he will compel; / And bids you, in the bowels of the Lord, / Deliver up the crown, and to take mercy / On the poor souls for whom this hungry war / Opens his vasty jaws
    • 1611, The Holy Bible, [] (King James Version), London: [] Robert Barker, [], OCLC 964384981, Philippians 2:1-2:
      If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.
    • 1728, [John] Gay, The Beggar’s Opera. [], London: [] John Watts, [], OCLC 1108753617, Act II, scene ix, page 29:
      Have you no Bovvels, no Tenderneſs, my dear Lucy, to ſee a Huſband in theſe Circumſtances?
    • 1930, Mary Gaunt, Joan of the Pilchard, Chapter 15,[2]
      ‘If I gave in to you, Reynell,’ said Bligh quietly, so quietly they could not tell whether he felt any pity for the boy or not, ‘the same plea could be put forth by sixteen others in less than half an hour,’ and he dropped his chin on his breast again as if there the discussion ended.
      ‘I told you he had no bowels,’ said Ledward.
  5. (obsolete) The body as the source of offspring.
    • 1611, The Holy Bible, [] (King James Version), London: [] Robert Barker, [], OCLC 964384981, 2 Samuel 16:11:
      And David said to Abishai, and to all his servants, Behold, my son, which came forth of my bowels, seeketh my life: how much more now may this Benjamite do it?
    • 1751, Thomas Skinner, “A Sermon preach’d at the Ma’nor of Peace, in the County of Hampshire, on May the 9th, 1751” in Alfred Baylies Page, Reverend Grindall Rawson and his Ministry, 1907, p. 9,[3]
      Had you been their natural Parents, and they the Children of your own Bowels, Methinks, you could not have Contributed much more Bountifully to their Assistance []
    • 1845, Robert Browning, “The Bishop Orders his Tomb at St. Praxed’s Church” in Dramatic Romances and Lyrics, lines 63-64,[4]
      What do they whisper thee,
      Child of my bowels, Anselm?


Derived termsEdit




  1. plural of bowel