belfry

[bel-free]
noun, plural belfries.
1.
a bell tower, either attached to a church or other building or standing apart.
2.
the part of a steeple or other structure in which a bell is hung.
3.
a frame of timberwork that holds or encloses a bell.
4.
Slang. head; mind: a belfry full of curious notions.
Idioms
5.
have bats in one's belfry. bat2 ( def 3 ).

Origin:
1225–75; Middle English belfray, apparently blend of earlier berfray (< Middle French < Germanic) and Medieval Latin belfredus, dissimilated variant of berefredus < Germanic; compare Middle High German ber(c) frit, equivalent to berc defense, protection, refuge (cognate with Old English gebeorg; see harbor) + frit peace, (place of) safety (cognate with Old English frith)

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World English Dictionary
belfry (ˈbɛlfrɪ)
 
n , pl -fries
1.  the part of a tower or steeple in which bells are hung
2.  Compare campanile a tower or steeple
3.  the timber framework inside a tower or steeple on which bells are hung
4.  (formerly) a movable tower for attacking fortifications
 
[C13: from Old French berfrei, of Germanic origin; compare Middle High German bercfrit fortified tower, Medieval Latin berfredus tower]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

belfry
late 13c., "siege tower," from O.N.Fr. berfroi "movable siege tower" (Mod.Fr. beffroi), from M.H.G. bercfrit "protecting shelter," lit. "that which watches over peace," from bergen "to protect" + frid "peace." Originally a wooden siege tower on wheels ("free" to move); it came to be used for chime towers
(mid-15c.), which at first often were detached from church buildings (as the Campanile on Plaza San Marco in Venice). Spelling altered by association with bell.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases

belfry

see bats in one's belfry.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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Example sentences
He is represented holding in his right hand a sceptre, and in his left a
  building with a tower or belfry.
The top of the tower contains a belfry for the clock chimes.
When he turned his eye to fruit juice, his neighbours at home said he had bats
  in his belfry.
The devil gets into the belfry on the vicar's skirts.
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