- the sound made by a bell rung slowly, especially for a death or a funeral.
- a sound or sign announcing the death of a person or the end, extinction, failure, etc., of something: the knell of parting day.
- any mournful sound.
verb (used without object)
- to sound, as a bell, especially a funeral bell.
- to give forth a mournful, ominous, or warning sound.
verb (used with object)
- to proclaim or summon by, or as if by, a bell.
- the sound of a bell rung to announce a death or a funeral
- something that precipitates or indicates death or destruction
- (intr) to ring a knell
- (tr) to proclaim or announce by or as if by a tolling bell
Old English cnyll “sound made by a bell when struck or rung slowly,” perhaps of imitative origin. The Welsh cnull “death-bell” appears to be a borrowing from English. For vowel evolution, see bury.
Old English cnyllan “to toll a bell; strike, knock,” cognate with Middle High German erknellen “to resound,” Old Norse knylla “to beat, thrash;” probably imitative. Related: Knelled; knelling.
see death knell.