mid-14c., pele, "a ringing of a bell" especially as a call to church service; generally considered a shortened form of appeal (n.), with the notion of a bell that "summons" people to church (compare similar evolution in peach (v.)). Middle English pele also had the sense of "an accusation, an appeal" (15c.), and apele for "a ringing of bells" is attested from mid-15c.
Extended sense of "loud ringing of bells" is first recorded 1510s; subsequently it was transferred to other successions of loud sounds (thunder, cannon, mass shouts or laughter). Meaning "set of bells tuned to one another" is by 1789.
1630s, "sound loudly, resound" (intransitive), from peal (n.). Transitive sense of "to utter or cause to ring loudly and sonorously" is by 1714. Related: Pealed; pealing.
"to inform against, betray one's accomplices," 1560s (earlier pechen, "to accuse, indict, bring to trial," c. 1400), a shortening of appeach, empeach, obsolete variants of impeach. For form, compare peal (v.), also Middle English pelour "an accuser," from appellour. Related: Peached; peaching; peacher.
It forms all or part of: anvil; appeal; catapult; compel; dispel; expel; felt (n.) "unwoven fabric matted together by rolling or beating;" filter; filtrate; impel; impulse; interpellation; interpolate; peal; pelt (v.) "to strike (with something);" polish; propel; pulsate; pulsation; pulse (n.1) "a throb, a beat;" push; rappel; repeal; repel; repousse.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Greek pallein "to wield, brandish, swing," pelemizein "to shake, cause to tremble;" Latin pellere "to push, drive;" Old Church Slavonic plŭstĭ.
"bell-ringer, one employed to ring church or processional bells," early 15c. (c. 1200 as a surname), agent noun from ring (v.1). An early 13c. text has belle ringestre "nun who rings the convent bell."
In quoits (and by extension, horseshoes), "a throw cast so as to encircle the pin," from 1863, from ring (v.2).
Expression be a dead ringer for "resemble closely" (1891) preserves ringer in the horse-racing slang sense of "a fast horse entered fraudulently in a race in place of a slow one." The verb to ring in reference to this is attested from 1812, possibly from British ring in "substitute, exchange," via ring the changes, "substitute counterfeit money for good," a pun on ring the changes in the sense of "play the regular series of variations in a peal of bells" (1610s). The meaning "an expert" is recorded from 1918, Australian slang, from earlier meaning "man who shears the most sheep per day" (1871).