Ring someone's bell

Discussion in 'English Only' started by WritingAPuppy, Jun 5, 2009.

  1. WritingAPuppy Senior Member

    canada mandarin

    Sometimes I hear this phrase "ring someone's bell" (please note it's different from "ring a bell"). Two contexts:

    The first one: I was reading an article about sexual attraction. The author was encouraging some supposedly average-looking guy not to give up on a very beautiful woman. He said, even though beautiful women tend to have a lot of suitors, there might be something quirky about you that just "rings her bell".

    The second context: the lyrics from "Mr. Bombastic" by Shaggy. I am not sure if we are allowed to quote lyrics but you guys can easily google it. Anyway I will quote the relevant part here:

    Gal you captivate my body put me under a spell
    With your cus cus perfume I love your sweet smell
    You are the only young girl that can ring my bell

    So essentially I am kind of sure that "ring someone's bell" means you make someone like you in a romantic way, right? My second question is, does it have a sexual undertone? As in, does it mean you not only make someone like you that way, you also make them want you "that way" as well, or does it merely mean you make them like you romantically?

    Also I tried googling and couldn't find a definitive answer.

  2. Gorgiewave Senior Member

    Scotland, English
    "To ring somebody's bell" means that you like that person, probably romantically / sexually. It could be used in another context, such as to describe a footballer, but ironically. A similar expression would be "you turn me on" (less ironic and more direct) or "you do it for me" (politer).

    It could have a sexual overtone since the glans penis is known as the "bellend". "Ringing one's bell" could be receiving a handjob, although I have never heard the expression. It is one of many phrases that is so vague and unliteral that it could have any meaning.
  3. Cypherpunk Senior Member

    Springdale, AR
    US, English
    As a side note, 'ring someone's bell' has long been an expression for feeling dazed after being hit in the head. It can be used in fighting, if a fighter is struck in the head or face, but it can also be used if a person falls or hits their head on something. In AE, I think this is the more common meaning (though it's an older expression).

    In AE, I've heard 'ring the bell' refer to various sexual feats, including public masturbation. In the example you gave, I think Georgiewave's first answer is probably the most likely.
  4. jameskop New Member

    The term goes back quite far in English literature. Edmund Spenser uses it in his epic work, The Faerie Queene (circa 1592), where a naughty wife's bell is rung nine times by satyrs. Obviously, the meaning is quite sexual there.


    James Koponen
    M.A., English Literature
  5. From the sublime to the ridiculous ...

    There is also a disco song from the '70s called "Ring My Bell." Here are the lyrics:


    The sexual meaning is obvious.

    I've also heard the struck-on-the-head meaning. "Ring [one's] chimes" seems to be a phrase used in all the same ways.
  6. Wayland Banned

    Nowadays street vernacular can be out of date as soon as it is coined. She dings my dong or she ticks all the right boxes and various other phrases have come in and out of fashion more often than I change my socks. In today's world of instant electronic communication I fear (nay rejoice) that prescriptive dictionaries and similar teaching of language may soon be a thing of the past.

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