unusual usage of bellowing


Explosions shook the ground, artillery shells, mortars and bombs continuously rained down, fires blazed, and smoke bellowed high into the sky.

Doesn't bellowing mean "make a loud sound"? If that's the case, then why are we using it as if it meant "moving high into the sky"? It doesn't make sense. What kind of figure of speech is being used here? Or how do you explain such usage?


Posted 2020-05-14T23:11:25.437

Reputation: 371



It's a misprint! The smoke billowed high into the sky.

See Lexico for definition and examples.

Old Brixtonian

Posted 2020-05-14T23:11:25.437

Reputation: 2 714

Could be that the text is exactly what the author wrote, but that he intended billowed, and it was missed in editing because it's just possibly a figure of speech... – Ross Presser – 2020-05-15T13:50:14.007

2Either way, it's just a mistake because the words are similar. – Barmar – 2020-05-15T15:12:58.633


It's an archaic term for expelling something - the root of the word is from the word "bellows" which pump and "bellow" air.

[Reference - 2nd definition][1] https://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/bellowed+out


Posted 2020-05-14T23:11:25.437

Reputation: 27

2That's a link to "bellow out", which is not how the word was used in the question. – David K – 2020-05-15T11:05:34.080

2Frankly, I think freedictionary is wrong here. There is no external citation for this usage and I can't find it in any other dictionary I've looked in. – Dancrumb – 2020-05-15T15:44:14.947

Er, the root is to make noise. https://www.etymonline.com/word/bellow (Hmm, pressing Enter is auto-submit...) A bellows is a tool for producing the force of air to operate a bellowing instrument, like an accordion. (It can be rather noisy itself, too.)

– Dúthomhas – 2020-05-15T20:07:20.960

@Dúthomhas, my Concise Oxford says that the most likely etymology is from the Old English for belly, presumably referring to the appearance of a bellows rather than any particular use. – Harry Johnston – 2020-05-15T23:42:00.250


An extended form of the root [bhel, which is PIE and therefore many thousands of years old], bhelgh- "to swell," forms all or part of: bellows; belly; bilge; billow; bolster; budget; bulge; Excalibur; Firbolgs. – etymonline, billow.

– Mazura – 2020-05-16T02:36:04.890

The root is (bhel), 1. "to shine, flash, burn" also "shining white". 2. "to blow, swell,". 3. "to thrive, bloom". – Mazura – 2020-05-16T02:39:35.677

Ah, that makes more sense. I guess you can’t believe everything you find online. – Dúthomhas – 2020-05-16T02:46:57.713

this is completely wrong – Fattie – 2020-05-16T20:37:03.187