a bell hung around a cow's neck to indicate its whereabouts.
the bladder campion.

1805–15; cow1 + bell1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
cowbell (ˈkaʊˌbɛl)
1.  a bell hung around a cow's neck so that the cow can be easily located
2.  a metal percussion instrument usually mounted on the bass drum or hand-held and struck with a drumstick
3.  (US) another name for bladder campion

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Example sentences
One last thing, make sure to have someone play cowbell along with you.
He was, in a strictly metaphorical way, the guy who played the cowbell that
  made the funky song groove.
Then a chorus of employees chime in, complete with guitars, drums and a cowbell.
To avoid surprise meetings, talk with companions, whistle or fasten a cowbell
  to your backpack or clothing.
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