Posted by ESC on November 16, 2004

In Reply to: Knobs posted by Lewis on November 15, 2004

: : : : Hello,

: : : : I know this idiom but I don't know what the latter part--'it's got bells on' means. Any idea of its origin? Thanks a lot!

: : : There has been quite a lot of discussion on the leg-pulling theme. Some of the discussion involved people being hanged. It is the case that hanging can be drawn out and unpleasant - so the condemned man would often pay for the hangman or somebody to pull down on the legs to ensure a quick death. that causes an association between pulling legs and money.
: : : somebody said that sometimes children would pull the legs in the hope of coins falling out of pockets. to tell a person to 'pull the other one' is to tell them to have another go - they might be luckier next time. if a pocket has coins it will jingle, as a bell would.
: : : it is used as an expression of disbelief.

: : See link for bells on info.

: did I miss something? I'm sure the decorative use of bells didn't come up in discussing pulling legs last time.

: My grandmother always used to say 'with knobs on' in the same fashion. such as 'the same to you with knobs on' - I suppose that is another pointless decoration adding no purpose - bells and whistles.

Searching under "bells leg pull" yields several theories.