Archive for March 11, 2010

idiom: to ring a bell


Today I have an idiom for you which is not related to a part of our bodies: to ring a bell. We use this to talk about something which we can remember a little but not clearly. For example:

A: Do you remember a guy named Martin Fisher?

B: The name rings a bell, but I don’t remember him very well.


A: I watched an old movie last night called “Goodbye Mr. Chips”. Have you seen it?

B: Well, it rings a bell, but I’m not sure if I’ve seen it or not.

We can also use this expression in the negative: to not ring a bell. In this case, it means that we don’t remember ever hearing about something or someone in the past. For example:

A: Have you ever heard of “Blue Monday”? They were a rock band in the sixties.

B: Sorry, that doesn’t ring a bell.


A: I ran into our old classmate, Patty Shelton, at the shopping mall today.

B: Patty Shelton? Are you sure I’ve met her? The name doesn’t ring a bell.

This is a very commonly used idiom among English speakers. I hope you find it useful.

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