a. A flexible band, as of leather or cloth, worn around the waist or over a shoulder to hold up clothing, secure tools or weapons, or serve as decoration.
b. Something resembling a belt, as a number of machine-gun rounds attached together in a strip.
2. An encircling route.
3. A seat belt or safety belt.
4. A continuous band or chain for transferring motion or power or conveying materials from one wheel or shaft to another.
5. A band of tough reinforcing material beneath the tread of a tire.
6. A usually bandlike geographic region that is distinctive in a specific respect. Often used in combination: “This is America's rural poverty belt” (Charles Kuralt).
7. A powerful blow; a wallop.
8. A drink of hard liquor.
tr.v. belt·ed, belt·ing, beltsIdioms:
1. To equip, hold up, or attach with a belt: belted my trousers; belted the sword to her waist.
2. To encircle or mark in the manner of a belt: The equator belts the earth.
3. To beat with a belt or strap.
4. To strike forcefully; hit.
5. To sing in a loud and forceful manner: belt out a song.
6. To swig (an alcoholic beverage).
below the belt
Not according to the rules; unfairly.
tighten (one's) belt
To begin to exercise thrift and frugality.
under (one's) belt
In one's possession or experience: “By his mid-teens, Liszt had three years of intensive concertizing under his belt” (Musical Heritage Review).
[Middle English, from Old English, from Germanic *baltijaz, from Latin balteus, belt, baldric, possibly of Etruscan origin.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2022 by HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.