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A bicycle bell is a percussive signaling instrument mounted on a bicycle for warning pedestrians and other cyclists.

Wikipedia says that a bicycle bell produces a "ding-ding" sound, and so, since I'm not sure that "ding-ding" sound is the better choice currently in use, I wonder whether there is a single term with which one can more properly indicate this sound.

After some searches I focused my attention on "clang", "to make a loud metallic ringing sound", but I'm not sure it is the right term.

Thus, my question is, is there a term for the sound of a bicycle bell?


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    It's definitely not "clang". You "ring" a bell so I would just go with "ring" as the sound. – Ste Sep 5 '13 at 15:43
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    I think all the possible sounds of bells in English are included in the poem the Bells, by Poe. – Peter Shor Sep 5 '13 at 15:44
  • @Ste, do you want to say that "a clear resonant sound made by or resembling that made by vibrating metal" is a "'ding-ding' sound"? – user51029 Sep 5 '13 at 15:47
  • How about "jingle": – Peter Shor Sep 5 '13 at 15:49
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    @AtsutoNagatomo it can be, it can also be a ring or dring or ding. Different bicycle bells produce different sounds, some have a trilling ring and some a distinct, single dong. – terdon Sep 5 '13 at 15:49
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you should say jingle

a tinkling or clinking sound, as of small bells or of small pieces of resonant metal repeatedly struck one against another.

JINGLE BELL PUKY G22 9913-22 MM

Another word as correctly suggested in the comment below (@PLL) and in the definition above is tinkle

to give forth or make a succession of short, light, ringing sounds, as a small bell.

63mm x 43mm x 54mm Black Bike Bicycle TINKLE BELL

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    Tinkling, used in your quotation, is also a good possibility. – PLL Sep 5 '13 at 16:35
  • I agree with tinkle but not with jingle. – Hugo Sep 5 '13 at 19:23
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    I have never heard the word "jingle" used to refer to a bicycle bell, in fact it doesn't sound right (and the sound does not particularly match the given definition.) Same goes for tinkle, though I have to say when I hear that word I think of it as a euphemism for "urinate." Clang is also definitely not right, that has the color of a loud dissonant sound. "Ding-ding" or the less onomatopoeic "ring-ring" seems to me to be the best choice. – Fraser Orr Sep 5 '13 at 21:14
  • the association of ringing bells with urination is well known - especially to canine trainers – user49727 Sep 6 '13 at 0:38
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Thus, my question is, is there a term for the sound of a bicycle bell?

Yes. One that is simple and straight to the point is the word ring. There is a useful definition here http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/british/ring_3 This would be the best way to refer to the sound in general.

The other words mentioned are descriptions of particular sounds that particular bicycle bells make.

If you need to describe a particular sound that a bell makes, use one of those words. If you just need to mention the sound that a bell makes in general, without describing it, use the word ring.

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Clang is certainly not the word you're looking for. Clang has connotations of a much larger, deeper sound than a puny little bike bell.

If you don't like ding-ding to just go for ring.

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You can also refer to the sound made by bike bells as ping

a short high-pitched resonant sound, as of a bullet striking metal or a sonar echo

You can buy Ping Bike Bells on ebay

  • I said that a half hour ago. – RyeɃreḁd Sep 5 '13 at 16:34
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I would use the words ding, whirl, or ping, depending on the individual sound the bell made.

  • Whirl? I've never heard that word used to describe a sound, only motion. – ghoppe Sep 5 '13 at 18:53
  • @ghoppe - my son had a bike with a bell that sounded like air was going through it really fast... It was called a whirl bell. – RyeɃreḁd Sep 5 '13 at 18:58
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Perhaps ting-a-ling

the sound of a small bell

  • The rhythm of ting-a-ling suggests to me an ordinary-style bell with a clapper going back and forth — very different from the ring of a bicycle bell. – PLL Sep 5 '13 at 16:34
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There are two types of bicycle bell, one of which strikes once for every flick of the lever while the other makes a series of sounds when the lever is moved. The first type does not really need a particular name for its sound as there are many small bells which sound like that.

In the UK at least the sound of the second type is often referred to as a "tring". In fact there is a Dutch bike accessory company called Urban Proof which calls one of its bells Tring.

Also the comedian and writer Spike Milligan once wrote that the Hertfordshire town of Tring was where the bicycle bell was invented, but he had a very ideosycratic sense of humour!

protected by tchrist Aug 10 '14 at 14:43

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