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

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