Ring a Bell

Also:
Ring any bells

Meaning of Idiom ‘Ring a Bell’

To ring a bell means to cause someone to remember something, although indistinctly or vaguely; to remind someone of something. 1Spears, Richard A. McGraw-Hill’s American Idioms Dictionary]. Boston: McGraw Hill, 2008. ,2Ammer, Christine. American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.

If something, such as a name or phrase, rings a bell, you think you have heard it before or you vaguely remember it. 3McCarthy, Michael. Cambridge International Dictionary of Idioms. Cambridge University Press, 2002

Usage

This idiom often takes the form of ‘rings a bell’ as in the exchange:

“Do you remember little Petey from second grade?” said James. “The name rings a bell,” said Mark.

Another common usage is as a question with the form ‘ring any bells’ as in “does this ring any bells.”

Ring a bell idiom meaning

Examples Of Use

“I need to ask you some questions about the night of the murder,” said the detective. “I don’t remember anything,” said the suspect. “Perhaps these will ring a bell,” said the detective, placing some photos on the table.

“My friend Jo-Ann is coming over tomorrow evening,” said Laura. “Who’s that?” said Rick. “You remember. You met her at Dawn’s wedding. “Doesn’t ring a bell,” said Rick.

Origin

Used since the 1930’s, this idiom alludes to a bell helping to remind someone or serving as an alarm. 4McGraw-Hill’s American Idioms Dictionary]. Boston: McGraw Hill, 2008.

More Idioms Starting with R

More Bell Idioms

More Ring Idioms

 

Sources   [ + ]

1. Spears, Richard A. McGraw-Hill’s American Idioms Dictionary]. Boston: McGraw Hill, 2008.
2. Ammer, Christine. American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.
3. McCarthy, Michael. Cambridge International Dictionary of Idioms. Cambridge University Press, 2002
4. McGraw-Hill’s American Idioms Dictionary]. Boston: McGraw Hill, 2008.