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See also: Bellows


The bellows for a church organ


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Hand bellows

Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English belwes, plural of belu, belw, a northern form of beli, from Old English belg, cf. bælġ, from Proto-Germanic *balgiz. Compare German Balg. See also belly.



  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.
  4. (photography) Flexible, light-tight enclosures connecting the lensboard and the camera back.
Usage notes[edit]
  • "Bellows" is used with both singular and plural verbs. One can even find "A bellows is/was".
Related terms[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

See bellow



  1. plural of bellow



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