Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search



From Middle English belfrey, bellfray, belfray, from Old French belfroi, berfroi, berfrey (changed to have an l by association with bell), from Middle High German bërcvrit or bërvrit ('protect peace', a defensive tower),[1][2][3] possibly via Late Latin berefredus, from Proto-Germanic *bergafriþuz, from Proto-Indo-European *bʰerĝʰ, *bʰr̥ĝʰ + *prāy-, *prēy- (to like, love).



belfry (plural belfries)

  1. (obsolete) A movable tower used in sieges.
  2. (dialectal) A shed.
  3. (obsolete) An alarm-tower; a watchtower containing an alarm-bell.
  4. (architecture) A tower or steeple specifically for containing bells, especially as part of a church.
  5. (architecture) A part of a large tower or steeple, specifically for containing bells.
    • 1922 February, James Joyce, Ulysses, London: The Egoist Press, published October 1922, OCLC 2297483:
      Episode 12, The Cyclops
      From the belfries far and near the funereal deathbell tolled unceasingly while all around the gloomy precincts rolled the ominous warning of a hundred muffled drums punctuated by the hollow booming of pieces of ordnance.

Derived terms[edit]



  1. ^ Douglas Harper (2001–2021) , “belfry”, in Online Etymology Dictionary
  2. ^ belfry in Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913.
  3. ^ Alternative spelling and languages with loanwords from the Middle High German word, in Benecke's Mittelhochdeutsches Wörterbuch