When something knells, it makes a slow, sad, scary sound, like a funeral bell. (Hear one here.)
And, to knell something is to announce it (or indicate it) as if you're using a slow, sad bell. The thing being knelled is usually the death of something (or the end of something).
NELL (the "k" is silent)
Part of speech:
It's both a noun ("a knell," "two knells," "many knells")
and a verb: both the transitive kind ("to knell something")
and the intransitive kind ("to knell.")
knelled, knelling, knells
How to use it:
For the first meaning, "to make a slow, sad, scary sound," (the intransitive verb,) say that something knells: "The rains knelled against the rooftops throughout the lonely night." "From across the cemetery, we could hear the bagpipes as they knelled."
For the second meaning, "to announce or indicate something as if you're using a slow, sad bell," (the transitive verb,) say that one thing knells the end of another thing: "Starring in the straight-to-DVD movie knelled the end of the actor's A-list reputation." "Disgruntled employees leaving in droves knelled the downfall of the company." "The prevalence of Red Boxes knelled Blockbuster Video's death."
The noun "knell" is very commonly used in the phrase "death knell." Talk about a death knell being sounded, often for something: "Bad ratings on Yelp can sound the death knell for your restaurant." Alternatively, you can say something rings the death knell for something else, or that it is the death knell: "Bad Yelp ratings rang the death knell for the restaurant" or "Bad Yelp ratings were the death knell for the restaurant."
When booking travel online became easy and free, the death knell was sounded for travel agencies (but I don't think they heard it.)
A common cliché in fiction is when a character coughs once, meaningfully, which knells his inevitable and dramatic death later on in the story.
Look away from the screen to explain the definition in your own words. You’ll know you understand what "knell" means when you can explain it without saying "bell" or "indicate."
Think of a time you realized something was definitely over, and fill in the blanks: "__(Some kind of signal or sign)___ sounded the death knell for _____."
Example: "The fact that the frozen yogurt shop was often closed during regular business hours really sounded the death knell for it."
Spend at least 20 seconds occupying your mind with the game and quote below. Then try the review questions. Don’t go straight to the review now—let your working memory empty out first.
We’re starting off with easy questions, then working our way toward some whoppers at the end of the month, all the while focusing on funny, unusual words; surprising word histories; and cool tidbits about the language.
There are three English words that end in “ceed.” One is “succeed.” What are the others?
"Proceed" and "exceed."
Try this last one today. It's the hardest one I picked from the whole book:
This is the only word in English that consists of two letters used three times each. What is it?
A Point Well Made:
Parker Palmer: “Violence is what happens when we don’t know what else to do with our suffering.”
1. The opposite of KNELL is
2. In a _____ poem fitting the tone of today's word, Edgar Allan Poe describes a _____ who "knells, knells, knells."
A. futuristic .. robot
B. romantic .. white horse
C. dark and frightening .. king of ghouls
Answers are below.
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Disclaimer: Word meanings presented here are expressed in plain language and are limited to common, useful applications only. Readers interested in authoritative and multiple definitions of words are encouraged to check a dictionary. Likewise, word meanings, usage, and pronunciations are limited to American English; these elements may vary across world Englishes.
Answers to review questions:
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