bell the cat

bell the cat :

bell, book, and candle

a formula for laying a curse on someone

This expression alludes to the closing words of the rite of excommunication, 'Do to the book, quench the candle, ring the bell', meaning that the service book is closed, the candle put out and the passing bell rung, as a sign of spiritual death.

bell the cat

take the danger of a shared enterprise upon yourself

Bell the cat alludes to the fable in which mice or rats have the idea of hanging a bell around the cat' sneck so as to have warning of its approach, the only difficulty being to find one of their number willing to undertake the task.

bells and whistles

attractive additional features or trimmings – informal

The bells and whistles originally referred to were those found on old fairground organs. Nowadays, the phrase is often used in computing jargon to mean attractive but superfluous facilities.

saved by the bell

preserved from danger narrowly or by an unexpected intervention

In boxing matches a contestant who has been knocked to the floor can be saved from being counted out by the ringing of the bell to mark the end of a round.

as clear as a bell = as sound as a bell

perfectly clear

perfectly sound

1993 - Independent - We spent a few thousand on redecoration, but basically the place was sound as a bell.

give someone a bell

telephone someone - British informal

ring a bell

revive a distant recollection

sound familiar – informal

with bells on

enthusiastically - North American informal

1989 - Mary Gordon - The Other Side - So, everybody's waiting for you with bells on.

bell the cat :

bell the cat To HOME PAGE

Idioms Index – Previous Page

Related Links : bell the cat