I'd be glad if anyone can explain to me the usage of "chime" in the context of a person saying something. How does that come out if chiming means the sound of a bell?

For instance: 'Well' Lisa chimed happily.

  • "Chime in" is a common idiom meaning to inject one's thoughts into a conversation where one was not a direct participant.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Jun 27, 2016 at 12:41
  • Please look up a good dictionary or Google the word and let us know what happened. Good Luck.
    – Kris
    Commented Jun 27, 2016 at 12:52
  • @Kris I've looked it up before posting this question but chime was always being used with "in", and It didn't occur to me at the first time it might mean "participating to the conversation" because the conversation I'm reading didn't resemble so. I think I may assume it is synonymous with "'Well' Lisa added/said happily". Am I correct?
    – Burak.
    Commented Jun 27, 2016 at 13:15
  • Google Books has about 6000 instances of she chimed, reducing to about half that number after I specifically excluding chimed in. The fact that we often include the preposition doesn't imply that we have to include it. Commented Jun 27, 2016 at 16:35

1 Answer 1


In the context of a person speaking, chime means to either interrupt a conversation with an unwanted opinion, or to participate harmoniously in a conversation. Given that the two meanings are polar opposites, it is well to understand it in the general context of the text!

  • It's interrupting to agree. There's no polar opposite.
    – Kris
    Commented Jun 27, 2016 at 12:51
  • 1
    @Kris Except it need not be an interruption, and it might not be to agree. There is no polar opposite because the word doesn't imply anything about those things.
    – Phil Sweet
    Commented Jun 27, 2016 at 16:44
  • @Kris: I've always taken "chimed" and "chimed in" to mean different things, depending on context. While "chimed" might be intended as shorthand for "chimed in" (= interrupted), it can also be mean "to speak in cadence or singsong" (meaning 7) - presumably the meaning originating in the metaphor of the voice sounding like chimes. Since Lisa chimed happily, I interpret this as singsong voice rather than interruption. Not quite polar opposites, but certainly reflecting a divergence on the welcome-unwelcome scale :-) Commented Jul 11, 2016 at 3:32

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