Bells and whistles


      • Excessive features or add-ons
        Referring to unnecessary or frivolous additions to something, usually a product or service, that may seem impressive but do not serve a practical purpose

      • Attract attention or impress
        To add flashy or showy features to something in order to make it seem more appealing or impressive

      • Flaws or issues
        Describing the presence of hidden or underlying problems or complications in something that may seem perfect or impressive at first glance

    Examples of Bells and whistles

    • The new car model comes packed with all the bells and whistles, including a state-of-the-art infotainment system, heated seats, and a panoramic sunroof.

      "Bells and whistles" is a figurative expression used to describe additional features, often decorative or superfluous, that are added to a product to make it more attractive or appealing to customers. In this example, the manufacturer is promoting the car's advanced features, which go beyond the basic functionality required for transportation, as a way of making the vehicle stand out from the competition.

    • The new presentation software has all the bells and whistles, from interactive whiteboards to virtual reality simulations.

      In this example, "bells and whistles" refers to a wide range of sophisticated features that are included in the software to enhance its functionality and usability. The phrase highlights the idea that the software's additional features make it more comprehensive and sophisticated than other similar products.

    • The restaurant's menu had all the bells and whistles, from foie gras to kobe beef, but the portions were way too small for the price.

      In this example, "bells and whistles" is used to describe the high-end, luxurious items on the menu, but the context also suggests that the "bells and whistles" might not necessarily translate into value for money. The phrase underscores the idea that sometimes, having too many features, gimmicks, or embellishments in a product can lead to inflated prices and unsatisfied customers.

    • The CEO of the company promises that the new product will be packed with all the bells and whistles, but we'll have to wait and see if it lives up to the hype.

      In this example, "bells and whistles" is used to refer to the marketing or promotional efforts made by the company's CEO to highlight the product's advanced features and capabilities. The phrase suggests that the CEO is trying to generate excitement and attract attention to the product by emphasizing its sophisticated or impressive elements. However, the context also implies that the "bells and whistles" could be overstated or exaggerated, and it might be unclear whether the product can truly deliver on its promised features.

    • The new smartphone boasts all the bells and whistles, such as a high-resolution camera, fast processor, and long battery life.

      This idiom refers to the additional features or functions that go beyond the basic or essential ones. It is often used to describe products or services that have extra capabilities that make them more attractive or appealing to customers. In this example, the new smartphone has not only the necessary features for communication but also advanced elements that make it stand out from its competitors.

    • The CEO promised that the company's new software package would have all the bells and whistles.

      This usage of the idiom relates to the promise or assurance that a product or service will have all the additional features and benefits that customers desire. It implies that the product will be updated, innovative, and sophisticated, providing maximum value and satisfaction to the user.

    • The theme park had all the bells and whistles, from thrilling rollercoasters to delightful rides for young children.

      This example shows how the idiom can refer to the variety and range of features, amenities, or services that provide a comprehensive and enjoyable experience to the user. The theme park offers a diverse collection of attractions that caters to all ages and preferences, making it a popular destination for families and adventure seekers.

    • The car salesman tried to convince us that the new model had all the bells and whistles, but we were skeptical.

      This example highlights how the idiom is sometimes used to exaggerate or overstate the features of a product or service in order to persuade or convince someone. It implies that the salesman is promoting the car as having all the desired components, but the potential buyers may be uncertain or unconvinced about its true value or quality.


    The idiom "bells and whistles" is often used to describe something that has unnecessary or excessive features or add-ons. This can refer to products, services, or even situations that have been embellished or enhanced beyond their practical purpose. It can also be used to describe something that may seem impressive or flashy on the surface, but upon closer inspection, lacks substance or practicality. Additionally, "bells and whistles" can be used to describe hidden or underlying problems or complications in something that may seem perfect or impressive at first glance.

    Origin of "Bells and whistles"

    The origin of the idiom "bells and whistles" is believed to come from the early days of steam-powered locomotives. The engines were equipped with various bells and whistles, such as steam whistles, to signal and communicate with other trains and workers on the tracks. As technology advanced, these features became less necessary and were eventually replaced by more efficient methods. However, the phrase remained in use and evolved to describe any unnecessary or excessive additions.

    Another theory suggests that the phrase may have originated from circus shows in the 19th century. Circus performers would often use bells and whistles to attract attention and entertain the audience. This idea of flashy and showy features being used to impress or distract could have influenced the use of "bells and whistles" in its current context.

    Overall, the exact origin of the idiom may be uncertain, but its meaning has evolved to describe excessive or unnecessary features in a variety of contexts.