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The belly of a pregnant woman.


From Middle English bely, beli, bali, below, belew, balyw, from Old English belg, bælg, bæliġ (bag, pouch, bulge), from Proto-West Germanic *balgi, *balgu, from Proto-Germanic *balgiz, *balguz (skin, hide, bellows, bag), from Proto-Indo-European *bʰelǵʰ- (to swell, blow up). Cognate with Dutch balg, German Balg. Doublet of bellows, blague, bulge, and budge. See also bellows.


  • IPA(key): /ˈbɛli/
  • (file)
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɛli
  • Hyphenation: bel‧ly


belly (plural bellies)

  1. The abdomen, especially a fat one.
    You've grown a belly over Christmas! Time to join the gym again.
  2. The stomach.
    My belly was full of wine.
  3. The womb.
  4. The lower fuselage of an airplane.
    • 1994, Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom, Abacus 2010, p. 454:
      There was no heat, and we shivered in the belly of the plane.
  5. The part of anything which resembles the human belly in protuberance or in cavity; the innermost part.
    the belly of a flask, muscle, violin, sail, or ship
  6. (architecture) The hollow part of a curved or bent timber, the convex part of which is the back.

Usage notes[edit]

  • Formerly, all the splanchnic or visceral cavities were called bellies: the lower belly being the abdomen; the middle belly, the thorax; and the upper belly, the head.

Derived terms[edit]


  • Sranan Tongo: bere


See also[edit]


belly (third-person singular simple present bellies, present participle bellying, simple past and past participle bellied)

  1. To position one’s belly; to move on one’s belly.
  2. (intransitive) To swell and become protuberant; to bulge or billow.
    • 1700, [John] Dryden, “Homer’s Ilias”, in Fables Ancient and Modern; [], London: [] Jacob Tonson, [], OCLC 228732415, book I, page 213:
      The Pow'r appeaſ'd, with Winds ſuffic'd the Sail, / The bellying Canvaſs ſtrutted with the Gale; []
    • 1890, Rudyard Kipling, “The Rhyme of the Three Captains,”[1]
      The halliards twanged against the tops, the bunting bellied broad,
    • 1914, Theodore Roosevelt, Through the Brazilian Wilderness, Chapter 6,[2]
      There were trees whose trunks bellied into huge swellings.
    • 1917 rev. 1925 Ezra Pound, "Canto I"
      winds from sternward
      Bore us onward with bellying canvas ...
    • 1930, Otis Adelbert Kline, The Prince of Peril, serialized in Argosy, Chapter 1,[3]
      The building stood on a circular foundation, and its walls, instead of mounting skyward in a straight line, bellied outward and then curved in again at the top.
  3. (transitive) To cause to swell out; to fill.

Derived terms[edit]