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.
updated on March 06, 2020