wordy wednesday: rings a bell

Today’s idiom: rings a bell

Meaning: familiar

Origin: Some think this has to do with Pavlov’s experiment (1934), where he used a bell to get dogs to salivate because they associated the ringing of a bell with being fed.  There are arguments that this cannot be the origin since it was not something that reminded them they were hungry, but caused a physical reaction.  Others believe that it has to do with bells being used as signals, for the start of school, doorbells, laundry’s done.  All of these are more modern conventions though, so it still doesn’t explain the origin of the phrase.  One source states that the first time the phrase is used in this context is 1941 in Budd Schulber’s What Makes Sammy Run?

Sources: etymology. phrases.


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