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[kou-bel] /ˈkaʊˌbɛl/
a bell hung around a cow's neck to indicate its whereabouts.
the bladder campion.
Origin of cowbell
1805-15; cow1 + bell1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for cowbell
Historical Examples
  • "I'll stake a cowbell that Sevier will stop at the Widow Brown's," he replied.

    The Crossing Winston Churchill
  • No, suh; it was a buzzard with a cowbell on his neck—that's whut it was.

    The Escape of Mr. Trimm Irvin S. Cobb
  • A cowbell—that was it; but why did it seem to come from overhead, from up in the sky, like?

  • My companion said it was a wolf; I said it was a dog; but soon we heard a cowbell.

    Wilford Woodruff Matthias F. Cowley
  • Not even the breachiest of breachy young heifers could be expected to tinkle a cowbell with such briskness.

    The Escape of Mr. Trimm Irvin S. Cobb
  • Then a cowbell tinkled, causing Mrs. Weems to shake and tremble.

    Clue of the Silken Ladder Mildred A. Wirt
  • The tinkling of a cowbell warned them that they were approaching a human habitation.

    The Angel of the Gila: Cora Marsland
  • There is the tinkling of a cowbell,—a noise how peevishly discordant were it close at hand, but even musical now.

  • Here his Honor took up the morning's cowbell and ran his eye up and down a column I knew was mine.

  • So we sat there awhile and the crows cawed and the cowbell jingled and it was quiet, but we didn't catch any more fish.

    Swatty Ellis Parker Butler
British Dictionary definitions for cowbell


a bell hung around a cow's neck so that the cow can be easily located
a metal percussion instrument usually mounted on the bass drum or hand-held and struck with a drumstick
(US) another name for bladder campion
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for cowbell

1650s, American English, from cow (n.1) + bell (n.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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