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”), possibly via Late Latin berefredus, from Proto-Germanic *bergafriþuz, from Proto-Indo-European *bʰerĝʰ, *bʰr̥ĝʰ + *prāy-, *prēy- (“to like, love”).
belfry (plural belfries)
- (obsolete) A movable tower used in sieges.
- (dialectal) A shed.
- (obsolete) An alarm-tower; a watchtower containing an alarm-bell.
- (architecture) A tower or steeple specifically for containing bells, especially as part of a church.
- (architecture) A part of a large tower or steeple, specifically for containing bells.
- 1922 February, James Joyce, Ulysses, Paris: Shakespeare & Co.; Sylvia Beach, OCLC 560090630; republished London: Published for the Egoist Press, London by John Rodker, Paris, 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.