• (America) IPA: /baʊ.əlz/
  1. plural form of bowel
  2. (plural only) The deepest or innermost part.
    down in the bowels of the Earth
    • c. 1592, William Shakespeare, Richard III, Act III, Scene 4,
      O momentary grace of mortal men,
      Which we more hunt for than the grace of God!
      Who builds his hopes in air of your good looks,
      Lives like a drunken sailor on a mast,
      Ready, with every nod, to tumble down
      Into the fatal bowels of the deep.
    • 1749, Henry Fielding, The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling, Dublin: John Smith, Volume I, Book 5, Chapter 12, p. 264,
      Here we cannot suppress a pious Wish, that all Quarrels were to be decided by those Weapons only, with which Nature, knowing what is proper for us, hath supplied us; and that cold Iron was to be used in digging no Bowels, but those of the Earth.
    • 1851, Herman Melville, Moby-Dick, Chapter 98,
      At length, when the last pint is casked, and all is cool, then the great hatchways are unsealed, the bowels of the ship are thrown open, and down go the casks to their final rest in the sea.
    • 1922, D. H. Lawrence, Aaron’s Rod, London: Martin Secker, Chapter 6, p. 69,
      The station was half deserted, half rowdy, several fellows were drunk, shouting and crowing. Down there in the bowels of London, after midnight, everything seemed horrible and unnatural.
  3. (plural only) The concept or quality that defines something at its very core.
    the project's bowels
  4. (plural only) The intestines.
  5. (plural only) Compassion, sympathy.
    • c. 1598, William Shakespeare, Henry V, Act II, Scene 4,
      Therefore in fierce tempest is he coming,
      In thunder and in earthquake, like a Jove,
      That, if requiring fail, he will compel;
      And bids you, in the bowels of the Lord,
      Deliver up the crown, and to take mercy
      On the poor souls for whom this hungry war
      Opens his vasty jaws
    • 1611, King James Version of the Bible, Philippians 2:1-2,
      If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.
    • 1728, John Gay, The Beggar’s Opera, Act II, Scene 9,
      Have you no Bowels, no Tenderness, my dear Lucy, to see a Husband in these Circumstances?
    • 1930, Mary Gaunt, Joan of the Pilchard, Chapter 15,
      ‘If I gave in to you, Reynell,’ said Bligh quietly, so quietly they could not tell whether he felt any pity for the boy or not, ‘the same plea could be put forth by sixteen others in less than half an hour,’ and he dropped his chin on his breast again as if there the discussion ended.
      ‘I told you he had no bowels,’ said Ledward.
  6. (plural only, obsolete) The body as the source of offspring.
    • 1611, King James Version of the Bible, 2 Samuel 16:11,
      And David said to Abishai, and to all his servants, Behold, my son, which came forth of my bowels, seeketh my life: how much more now may this Benjamite do it?
    • 1751, Thomas Skinner, “A Sermon preach’d at the Ma’nor of Peace, in the County of Hampshire, on May the 9th, 1751” in Alfred Baylies Page, Reverend Grindall Rawson and his Ministry, 1907, p. 9,
      Had you been their natural Parents, and they the Children of your own Bowels, Methinks, you could not have Contributed much more Bountifully to their Assistance […]
    • 1845, Robert Browning, “The Bishop Orders his Tomb at St. Praxed’s Church” in Dramatic Romances and Lyrics, lines 63-64,
      What do they whisper thee,
      Child of my bowels, Anselm?
Synonyms Translations Translations
  • German: Wesenskern, innerstes Wesen, innerster Kern
  • Russian: ядро́

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