Student Dictionary

One entry found for belfry.
Main Entry: bel·fry
Pronunciation: primarystressbel-fremacron
Function: noun
Inflected Form(s): plural belfries
Etymology: Middle English belfrey, berfrey "bell tower, war tower," from early French berfroi "war tower," of Germanic origin
: a tower or a room in a tower for a bell or set of bells
Word History In our day belfry means "bell tower"; the first syllable is a perfect match with bell, whatever -fry might mean. But in fact belfry does not derive from bell, and the original meaning of its medieval French source, berfroi, was not "bell tower," but rather "siege tower." A siege tower was a wheeled wooden structure that was pushed up to the walls of a besieged fortress to provide shelter and a base of attack for the besiegers. A variant of French berfroi that was also borrowed into English was belfroi. The resemblance of this word to Middle English belle, "bell," most likely set in motion a shift in meaning that gave belfry its current meaning.
[belfry illustration]

Pronunciation Symbols