belfry \BEL-free\ noun

*1 : a bell tower; especially : one surmounting or attached to another structure
2 : a room or framework for enclosing a bell
3 : head

Did you know?
Surprisingly, “belfry” does not come from “bell,” and early belfries did not contain bells at all. “Belfry” comes from “berfrey,” a medieval term for a wooden tower used in sieges. The structure could be rolled up to a fortification wall so that warriors hidden inside could storm the battlements. Over time, the term was applied to other types of shelters and towers, many of which had bells in them. Through association, people began spelling “berfrey” as “bellfrey,” then as “belfrey” and later “belfry.” On a more metaphorical note, someone who has “bats in the belfry” is crazy or eccentric. This phrase is responsible for the use of “bats” for “crazy” (“Are you completely bats?”) and the occasional use of “belfry” for “head” (“He’s not quite right in the belfry”).



About Beth

Canadian English teacher living in the UK with husband, daughter, imminent baby and cat...
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