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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.


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


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

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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.
  3. (transitive) To cause to swell out; to fill.
    • c. 1601, William Shakespeare, Troilus and Cressida, Act II, Scene 2,[5]
      Your breath of full consent bellied his sails;
    • 1920, Sinclair Lewis, Main Street, Chapter I, I,[6]
      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]