English Idiom – Ring a bell or Ring any bells.

Meaning – To sound or seem familiar. If something rings a bell it awakens a memory or reminds you of something. This expression is often used when something seems familiar, but you cannot remember exactly why.

It is common to use the negative of this expression as well. You can say that something doesn’t ring any bells (or doesn’t ring a bell).


When could you use this idiom?

  • You meet somebody who seems familiar, but you are unable to remember when you met before.
  • A friend is discussing a movie that sounds like something you may have already watched, but you are not sure.
  • Your partner is talking about a person you met recently, however you are struggling to remember meeting them.


  • “Did we meet before? Your name rings a bell, but I can’t quite figure out where I know you from!”

In The News:


  • Is there an idiom like this in your country?

What is an idiom?

An idiom is a word or phrase that is not taken literally.  An idiom is an expression that cannot be understood from the meanings of its individual words, but has a separate meaning of its own.