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Re: 'with bells on"

Posted by ESC on October 17, 2000

In Reply to: 'with bells on" posted by Harold Nassau on October 17, 2000

: original meaning? what kind of bells?

Sleigh bells!

From a May 2000 discussion:
I think this phrase is one that has several possible origins. I tend to agree with this version: "Be there with bells on. Arriving 'with bells on' -- meaning happy and delighted to attend -- goes back to the days before automobile, when it was the custom to deck out with the fanciest harness the horse that drew the carriage for special occasions. That, of course, was the harness 'with bells on.'" From the "Morris Dictionary of Word Phrase Origins" by William and Mary Morris (HarperCollins, Publishers, New York, 1977, 1988).