Bells and whistles

Explanation: What is an idiom?

The special, non-essential features of a product which make the product more attractive - looking.


"I bought a new hi-fi system today."

"Oh yeah?"

"Yeah, it's got everything, surround-sound, quadraphonic speakers, a spectrum peak indicator, mega triple bass, auto-search tuner with 164 memory settings, double cassette deck, multi-sub-woofer speakers, auto-play CD changer. It's great."

"You're terrible, you are. Anything with flashing lights, bells and whistles, you buy it."

"No, these things are essential on a hi-fi nowadays."

"Alright then, exactly what does a multi-sub-woofer speaker thingy do then?"

"Well ... it, kind of...woofs, doesn't it?"

"That must be great for all your Bing Crosby records."

"Yeah, well, there's a small problem with that."

"What's that, then?"

"Well, it hasn't got a record player."

"But you haven't got any CD's."

"Yeah, I know. Can I borrow one off you?"



In cinemas, long before the age of surround-sound, films were silent, and the music was provided by an organist who had to play along while the film was showing. Now what would the musician do when there was a train coming in the film? There's no note on an organ which is the equivalent of a whistle blowing, so these organs had whistles and bells attached to them in order to give realistic sound effects to the films. These are the bells and whistles which weren't essential, but helpful to the organist.

Bells and whistles don't just have to be connected with sound. Your computer, car or any mechanical gadget can have bells and whistles attached.

Category: b,music

 Let's Learn English E-Learning Platform offers thousands of interesting articles for all levels with fully interactive exercises, videos, audio and gradebook to track your progress. Join us as a student or a language school for learning material covering all coursebook, exams, business and general English. We even mark your written essays and you can grade your speaking/pronunciation. Find out more or contact us for a demo.

Please Wait...