I saw this other question, but it's not quite what I'm asking.

A bell makes a sound. How would you write that sound in English? As an interjection, e.g. "boom!"

I'm sure it varies with the type and size of bell. I'd be happy to hear any and all variations.

  • 1
    Not interjection, you mean "onomatopoeia". Commented Jan 31, 2012 at 16:52
  • That is an interesting question in its own right - what part of speech is "boom!"? If a human would exclaim it, I believe it would be an interjection. If a bell produces the sound, is it still an interjection? What I meant by the question is that I wasn't looking for a noun ("a ringing") or verb ("to ring"). The noun, verb and interjection(?) could all be said to be onomatopoetic, as far as I know. But the Wikipedia article does give the impression that "onomatopoeia" can be considered something like a part of speech. Would love to hear more on this.
    – Henrik N
    Commented Feb 1, 2012 at 11:10
  • Spun it off: english.stackexchange.com/questions/56600/…
    – Henrik N
    Commented Feb 1, 2012 at 11:14

4 Answers 4


Ringing sounds (nouns)

bell – the sound that a bell makes when it rings
bong – a long deep sound that a bell makes
chime – a ringing sound made by a bell, or by a clock with a bell inside it
ding – the short sound that a bell makes
ding-dong – the sound that a bell makes
jingle – the sound that small metal objects make when they hit each other
peal – a sound of several bells ringing
ping – a short high sound like the sound of a small bell
ring – the sound that a bell produces
ring – a sound like a bell
ting-a-ling – the high clear sound that a small bell makes
tinkle – a high ringing sound
tintinnabulation – the sound of bells
tocsin – a warning signal made by the sound of a bell
toll – the loud slow repeated sound of a large bell
“Ringing Sounds” at Macmillan Dictionary and Thesaurus

  • Thanks! As you say, these are nouns, but some also work as interjections. And interesting reading either way!
    – Henrik N
    Commented Jan 31, 2012 at 14:44
  • 5
    Yes, some work as interjections. "'Ding!' chimed the bell" is fine. But the sentence "The bells rang out, 'tintinnabulation!'" just doesn't have quite the same ring to it... ツ Commented Jan 31, 2012 at 16:51
  • 2
    Note that I, at least, associate ding-dong almost exclusively with doorbells.
    – Marthaª
    Commented Jan 31, 2012 at 17:08
  • 2
    @Marthaª And penises, don't forget penises. While ding-dong is pretty well associated with door bells, its also heavily associated with bells of any sort. Best examples I can find are in Christmas carols, such as the Carol of the Bells and Ding Dong Merrily on High.
    – Phoenix
    Commented Jan 31, 2012 at 18:28
  • 1
    What's brown and sounds like a bell?
    – MetaEd
    Commented Feb 1, 2012 at 18:41

The sound of Big Ben over the radio was traditionally rendered "Bong" (and sometimes referred to as the bongs, though I wouldn't recommend that in a normal context).

Church bells are supposed to go "Ding-dong" when rung, e.g., for a wedding. I have seen the sound of a full peal rendered "Tin-tan-din-dan-bim-bam-bom-bo" (Dorothy Sayers, if I remember correctly), but, again, would hesitate to use that more generally.

The problem is that the sound of a bell is no more specific than the sound of a voice, so just as people may whisper, murmur, exclaim, shout or many other possibilities, bells may tinkle, chime, peal, clamour, clang..., and each would be 'spelt out' differently.

  • 3
    If hitting a bell makes a bong sound, what sound does hitting a bong make?
    – Robusto
    Commented Jan 31, 2012 at 13:32
  • Hitting a bong is likely to make a smash sound (if it's made of glass), or a thud if it's made of wood. Perhaps you mean hitting a gong? Commented Jan 31, 2012 at 14:08
  • 1
    In my vernacular, hitting a bong is smoking cannabis through a water pipe - so the accompanying sounds would be gurgling of water, and spaced-out music! Commented Jan 31, 2012 at 15:39

As stated by the others, depends on the size of the bell. Actually, if you want a wide variety of sounds, look up the song, "Carol of the Bells". By the by, I've seen the occasional case of someone seeing that bells go "Ding dong" and including the latter, but you'll generally reduce the reader to laughter if there's a sudden DONG! in your narrative. ^_^ It's got to do with a certain slang use of it.

Oh, and because it's too good to pass up, the sound of the bells is something described as "tintinnabulation", especially in Edgar Allen Poe's The Bells.

  • +1 for Poe. 'How they clang, and clash, and roar!' Commented Jan 31, 2012 at 15:02

Not an answer, just an addendum to @TimLymington's answer - I agree with Ding-Dong


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