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If you want to describe the sound of a small brass bell that you can hold in your hand (this is an example image of what I mean - what word would you use? Brrring? Bling?

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what about jingle or ting? – Theta30 Sep 12 '11 at 7:03
I believe Poe has all the bell sounds pretty much covered. In order of size, his bells jingle, tinkle, chime, ring, clang, knell, toll, and more. – Peter Shor Jul 3 '12 at 15:43
topskip, the "how do you call" wording is incorrect in English. You should replace the how with what. You would benefit from reading the discussion at this link… – Tristan r Mar 18 '14 at 22:05
@Tristanr thanks a lot! I am not sure to edit the question as it generated unnecessary noise on the front page. – topskip Mar 19 '14 at 15:13
topskip, that's understandable. The important thing is to learn from this. – Tristan r Mar 19 '14 at 15:27

6 Answers 6

up vote 5 down vote accepted

The term should be tinkle. For example:

  • A bell tinkled as the door opened.
  • The maid tinkled a bell.
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Great, thank you very much! – topskip Sep 11 '11 at 11:49
@Patrick: Sorry, I changed it, I think this one is more appropriate. :) – Alenanno Sep 11 '11 at 11:52
Only the smallest bells tinkle. A good example is the bell that signals someone entering a shop. A hand bell of the size pictured makes quite a loud noise, and ring would be more appropriate, but maybe the OP's picture is not what was really intended. – z7sg Ѫ Jan 31 '12 at 12:17
tinkle: a light high ringing sound I just didn't think the picture looked like a "tinkly" bell. It's hard to tell though. You wouldn't say this guy's bell tinkles for example:… – z7sg Ѫ Jan 31 '12 at 14:25
In my region (Canada) 'tinkle' is slang for 'urinate.' In context it would still mean the sound of a small bell, but listeners would not be able to help making the urination connection. – JAM Jul 3 '12 at 13:04

The sound of a small brass bell is a ‘tintinnabulation’.

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The sound of a hand held brass bell, to me, is "ding-a-ling."

"Tinkle" would apply at best to a very small bell (and at worst is slang for urinate as I commented above), and "brrring" would apply to the repeated hammering on a bell such as one used to hear telephones or school bells make. "Bling" is slang for gaudy jewellery!

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Edgar Allen Poe's poem The Bells pretty much covers this. In this poem:

sleigh bells tinkle and jingle,
wedding bells ring and chime,
alarm bells clang,
funeral bells toll and knell.

For small bells, I think tinkle, jingle, ring would all apply.

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As per me you can also use the word "Chiming" "The chiming of bells" etc. Hope it helped.

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Hi, Tinkerer, and thank you for your interest in English Language & Usage. Your answer would be much stronger if you cited an authority other than yourself for the proposition that chiming describes the sound of a small, hand-held brass bell. Quoting (and if possible, linking to) a suitable dictionary definition would be one way to provide such support. – Sven Yargs Oct 31 at 19:16

brrrrrrrrrinng sounds like the high school home-time bell or something. You should use this one.

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