knell (n.)

Old English cnyll "sound made by a bell when struck or rung slowly," from knell (v.). Compare Dutch knal, German knall, Danish knald, Swedish knall. The Welsh cnull "death-bell" appears to be a borrowing from English. For vowel evolution, see bury. For pronunciation, see kn-.

knell (v.)

Old English cnyllan "to toll a bell; strike, knock," cognate with Middle High German erknellen "to resound," Old Norse knylla "to beat, thrash;" probably imitative. Intransitive sense, in reference to a bell, is from late 14c. Related: Knelled; knelling.

updated on March 22, 2016