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The belly of a pregnant woman.


From Middle English beli, from Old English bælġ, from Proto-Germanic *balgiz, from Proto-Indo-European *bʰelǵʰ- (to swell, blow up). See also bellows.



belly (plural bellies)

  1. The abdomen, especially a fat one.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Dunglison to this entry?)
  2. The stomach.
  3. The womb.
    • Bible, Jer. i. 5
      Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee.
  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
    • Bible, Jonah ii. 2
      Out of the belly of hell cried I.
  6. (architecture) The hollow part of a curved or bent timber, the convex part of which is the back.

Derived terms[edit]

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.
  • Applied to the human body, the word is nowadays considered by some to be impolite or even coarse.


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.
    • 1903, Jack London, The Call of the Wild, Chapter 7,[1]
      Bellying forward to the edge of the clearing, he found Hans, lying on his face, feathered with arrows like a porcupine.
  2. (intransitive) To swell and become protuberant; to bulge or billow.
    • 1700, John Dryden, The First Book of Homer’s Ilias in Fables Ancient and Modern, London: Jacob Tonson, p. 213,[2]
      The Pow’r appeas’d, with Winds suffic’d the Sail,
      The bellying Canvas strutted with the Gale;
    • 1890, Rudyard Kipling, “The Rhyme of the Three Captains,”[3]
      The halliards twanged against the tops, the bunting bellied broad,
    • 1914, Theodore Roosevelt, Through the Brazilian Wilderness, Chapter 6,[4]
      There were trees whose trunks bellied into huge swellings.
    • 1930, Otis Adelbert Kline, The Prince of Peril, serialized in Argosy, Chapter 1,[5]
      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.
    • c. 1601, William Shakespeare, Troilus and Cressida, Act II, Scene 2,[6]
      Your breath of full consent bellied his sails;
    • 1920, Sinclair Lewis, Main Street, Chapter I, I,[7]
      A breeze which had crossed a thousand miles of wheat-lands bellied her taffeta skirt in a line so graceful, so full of animation and moving beauty, that the heart of a chance watcher on the lower road tightened to wistfulness over her quality of suspended freedom.

Derived terms[edit]