Dictionary.com Word FAQs

What is the origin of dumbbell as exercise equipment?

The dumbbell (or dumb-bell) was at first an apparatus for swinging a church bell. Since it was the apparatus for ringing the bell, but not the bell itself, it was noiseless or 'dumb'. Moving this apparatus to ring the church bell was considered difficult physical exercise. Practice was required to develop the strength and skill to handle the apparatus to ring a heavy church bell. So bars made of metal or wood with a rounded knob at each end were created in pairs to be held and swung for practicing for this duty. Shortly thereafter, dumbbells came into use for general callisthenic exercise. Weights mounted on each end of a steel bar later also became known as barbells (or bar-bells).

Copyright © 2015 Dictionary.com, LLC. All rights reserved.
About Term Privacy Careers Apps Feedback