If you wanted 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?

  • what about jingle or ting? – Theta30 Sep 12 '11 at 7:03
  • 7
    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

The term should be tinkle. For example:

  • A bell tinkled as the door opened.
  • The maid tinkled a bell.
  • @Patrick: Sorry, I changed it, I think this one is more appropriate. :) – Alenanno Sep 11 '11 at 11:52
  • Not to be sorry, you helped me a lot! – topskip Sep 11 '11 at 11:53
  • 5
    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
  • 2
    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: upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/f/f6/… – z7sg Ѫ Jan 31 '12 at 14:25
  • 2
    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 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!


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.


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

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.