"Bells and whistles" is an idiom that describes the attractive, additional extras and features of any item, usually used to sell or promote the thing. In addition, the expression is American and was first cited in 1971.
- "Bells and whistles" are extra features or enhancements that are not essential, but add an appeal to something.
- "Bells and whistles" can also mean unnecessary or excessive features or accessories that make something more complicated, expensive, or difficult to use.
The phrase "bells and whistles" is an idiom that usually describes something with many extra options, making it more flashy but not automatically more efficient.
The phrase can also be used to express admiration or criticism, depending on the context and tone of the speaker.
For example, someone who likes technology might say:
"I love my new laptop. It has all the "bells and whistles" I need for work and entertainment."
On the other hand, someone who prefers simplicity might say:
"I don't need all these "bells and whistles" on my new laptop. I just want something that works fast and reliably."
The phrase can also be used in different contexts, such as:
Some variations and related expressions of this phrase are:
The idiom "bells and whistles" traces back to the world of trains and other locomotives during the early 20th century. Most of them had literal "bells and whistles" that would signal when they arrived, departed, or made their presence known while chugging down the track. The vehicles do not need these sounds, yet they add excitement and fun for the passengers and bystanders.
The earliest recorded use of the idiom "bells and whistles" in print is from 1971, in an article about a new car model:
"The car has all the bells and whistles you could want: power steering, power brakes, power windows, air conditioning."
Here are some examples of how to use the idiom "bells and whistles" in sentences:
The idiom "bells and whistles" has been used in various forms of pop culture, such as songs, movies, TV shows, books, etc.
Here are some examples:
"She wants bells and whistles. She wants fireworks and symphonies. She wants the whole world to know. She wants bells and whistles"
"I don't want to add more bells and whistles until we know what we have is stable."
Jim: Wow. Bells and whistles. Dwight: Yeah. Motion sensors, infrared lasers. It’s pretty much impenetrable. Jim: Unless you have a key.
"They want me to see everything they’ve done to me. All the bells and whistles that are supposed to make me desirable."
There are other ways to say "bells and whistles" with similar meanings. Here are some synonyms and alternatives for the idiom:
The origin of "bells and whistles" is unclear, but it is likely related to using "bells and whistles" in trains and locomotives in early times.
Some synonyms for "bells and whistles" are extras, features, flair, frills, gimmicks, trimmings, etc.
Some antonyms for "bells and whistles" are basic, simple, plain, minimal, essential, practical, functional, etc.
It depends on the context and the tone of the speaker. "Bells and whistles" can be used positively or neutrally, and it can also be used negatively or sarcastically.
You can use "bells and whistles" as a noun phrase to describe the extra features or accessories of something. You can also use it as an adjective phrase to modify a noun.
Example: (as a noun) : From my point of view, this car has all the "bells and whistles" you could want. The perfect car for any occassion!
Some other idioms that use the word bell or whistle are ring a bell (to sound familiar or remind someone of something), blow the whistle (to expose or report wrongdoing or corruption), whistle-blower (a person who tells or registers misconduct or crime), and more.
Yes, you can use "bells and whistles" for people as well as things.
Example: She has all the "bells and whistles" of a successful lawyer. She's intelligent, kind, and a certified cutie pie!
Yes, you can use "bells and whistles" in a question.
Example: What other kind of "bells and whistles" does this hotel offer? So far, their services align with my expectations.
Yes, you can use "bells and whistles" in a negative sentence.
Example: I don't like cars with too many "bells and whistles." Besides, they are hard to maintain and expensive to repair.
Yes, you can use "bells and whistles" in a comparative sentence.
Example: This laptop has more “bells and whistles” than yours. In fact, it has a bigger screen, a faster processor, and a longer battery life.
"Bells and whistles" is an idiom that can describe the extra features or accessories of something that make it more attractive or impressive. However, it can also imply something is unnecessary or excessive, making the whole thing more complicated or expensive.