phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at

With bells on

Posted by ESC on May 30, 2000

In Reply to: Derivation?? posted by Simon on May 29, 2000

: What is the derivation of the phrase

: "with bells on" ?

: Thank you

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).