Would you like to describe someone who is so attractive that they turn heads, as another saying goes? A ‘bell ringer’ is a common informal term that can be used to refer to someone who is very attractive or beautiful.
The phrase ‘bell ringer’ is a less common English saying that can be used to refer to someone who is considered attractive or beautiful by the speaker.
When someone is called a ‘bell ringer’, it is a figurative reference to the cartoon-style bells that might be pictured when someone is surprised or astonished.
The term ‘bell ringer’ can have other meanings, including the literal meaning which refers to someone who would ring a bell (for example, at a church).
Literal use of the saying is less common on social media and in modern conversation, although you will find references to the more literal use in older texts and modern use with context.
The use of ‘bell ringer’ as a physical compliment might refer to someone of any sex or gender, and is not specific.
An equivalent, common phrase is to say that someone ‘is a ten [on the attractiveness scale]’.
When the phrase ‘bell ringer’ is used in the negative form, it can become an insult that implies someone is unattractive to the speaker.
Sometimes it can be spelled as ‘bell-ringer’ as another valid use of the term.
When something ‘rings a bell’ it recalls a thought or memory, which is not the same thing as to say that someone is a bell ringer.
“Wait until you see what his mother looked like. Damn, she was a real bell ringer in the eighties, wasn’t she?”
“Quasimodo was a literal bell ringer, but that’s not what I meant when I called you a bell ringer on Facebook last week.”
“You can say what you want about that dress, but that man sure is a bell ringer no matter what the heck he’s wearing.”
“That shirt makes you look like a real bell ringer, but you might want to change the jacket that makes you look like a bellend.”
According to online language resources (including etymonline.com), the phrase ‘bell ringer’ is likely to have originally come from sports.
The bell signals the start and end of a round in competitive boxing and some other sports, and a ‘bell ringer’ would literally have to ring a bell on the sidelines of the ring.
While original use of the saying was literal, the figurative use became more common with time.
Somewhere in the 90s to 2000s, ‘bell ringer’ started to become a slang phrase that referred to attractiveness. Social media use of the phrase in the 2010s is also common.
The phrase is listed on the website Urban Dictionary from 2007.
Phrases Similar to Bell Ringer
- A ten
- A hot girl summer
Phrases Opposite to Bell Ringer
What is the Correct Saying?
- [He/she/they]’re a bell ringer
Ways People May Say Bell Ringer Incorrectly
There are several ways in which someone can use the phrase ‘bell ringer’ in the wrong way, or misunderstand the use of the phrase in context.
Someone can be referred to as a ‘bell ringer’ for their attractiveness, but it might be confused (especially in translation) with the literal task of a ‘bell ringer’.
Erroneously, the phrase is listed to mean a sexual act on Urban Dictionary.
The term can also be confused with the common expression ‘to ring a bell’, which means that something recalls a thought or memory.
Acceptable Ways to Phrase Bell Ringer
There are several acceptable ways to use the phrase ‘bell ringer’ in conversation, including to say that someone is a ‘bell ringer’.
The expression ‘bell ringer’ is used to mean that someone is attractive, usually as a reference to a third-party between two (or more) speakers.
Alternatively, the phrase can also be spelled as ‘bell-ringer’ for acceptable use.