saved by the bell


saved by the bell


  • to be saved from losing because there is a signal of the event coming to an end
  • to be spared from a troublesome event because of something that happened extraneous
  • to be rescued at the last moment before harm comes

Example Sentences

  1. The accused was saved by the bell otherwise the judge would have pronounced the sentence today itself.
  2. I was saved by the bell otherwise my father was about to uncover what I had done and there is no way that I could have even explained the situation to him.
  3. The police officer believed that the man had stolen but he did not have probable cause to search him and hence the culprit was saved by the bell.


The origination of the phrase comes from the world of boxing where the rounds are of a short duration and often boxers are saved because of the signalling of the bell to say that the round is over. The opposite party cannot throw another blow when the bell has rung and hence the other side is merely saved by something that happened outside rather than his own efforts. The phrase is speculated to have originated in the 1950’s.

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Dear Craig, while the idea that the idiom stems from the safety coffins is plausible, it's not certain whether that idiom was ever actually used in this context. The actual event of someone being buried alive was exceedingly rare, even back then, and thus the event of someone being "saved by the bell" in this context even rarer, if it happened at all. This would make the popularization of this sentence to the point of becoming an idiom less likely.

- Markus May 3, 2021

The boxing reference to "saved by the bell" dates back to 1893. Whereas, the "safety coffins" being the origin of the phrase dates back to the 1600s. "Safety coffins" were also used in New England as early as 1837. The fact that the "safety coffins" being the origin predates the boxing reference as being the origin by a few centuries should be enough to settle the disputed origin. I really feel like saying something about how those pesky facts can unravel disputed origins pretty easily but, I lack tact and I can come off as a condescending prick

- Craig December 25, 2020

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