Idioms

Learn idioms with comprehensive meaning, examples and origin details.

Idioms

ring a bell

ring a bell

Meaning

  • something that sounds familiar
  • makes someone remember something indistinctly
  • to awaken a vague or indistinct memory
  • recall something experienced previously

Example Sentences

  1. That name rings a bell but I cannot recall where I have heard it before.
  2. Does that description ring a bell with you?
  3. The place he was talking about rang a bell but I couldn’t remember where I had read about it.
  4. The name of the actress may not ring a bell but you all have seen her as a child artist in the TV show years ago.
  5. Have a look at this cryptic clue for the treasure hunt. Does this ring any bells with you?
  6. What he said in the morning rang a bell with me. I now know how to solve this problem.

Origin
The origin of this phrase is unclear, but there are some theories. One theory refers to Pavlov’s experiments with dogs, where he used a bell to invoke memories. When the dogs were served food, a bell was rung. Over time, the dogs started associating the sound of the bell with food and would start drooling when the bell was rung, even if the food was not given. Another theory suggests that bells have been used to remind or instruct us to do something since a long time. School bells, dinner bells, bells of an alarm clock, all serve to remind us that it is time to do something. Early recordings of this phrase used in the idiomatic form have been found since the mid 1900s.

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