Understanding the Idiom: "make the welkin ring" - Meaning, Origins, and Usage

Idiom language: English
Etymology: See etymology at welkin; and ring, verb sense 1, etymology 2.

The Origin of the Idiom

The origin of the idiom “make the welkin ring” can be traced back to ancient times when people believed that there was a dome-like structure above them called the “welkin”. They believed that this dome was made up of solid material and could produce sound if struck hard enough. This belief gave rise to expressions like “the heavens resound” or “the sky thunders”.

Usage and Examples

Today, the idiom is often used figuratively to describe any loud noise or commotion that can be heard from a distance. For example:

  • The crowd cheered so loudly it made the welkin ring.
  • The fireworks display made the welkin ring with its explosions.
  • His speech made the welkin ring with applause.

It is also commonly used in literature and poetry as a metaphor for powerful emotions or events. For example:

  • “And let their heirs God’s praises sing,/ Who make his wondrous mercies known;/ To all around let joyous peals/ Make heaven’s high arches echo wide.” – Isaac Watts (Hymn 69)
  • “I’ll make my heaven in a lady’s lap,/ And deck my body in gay ornaments,/ And witch sweet ladies with my words and looks.” – William Shakespeare (Henry VI, Part III)

Origins and Historical Context of the Idiom “make the welkin ring”

The idiom “make the welkin ring” is a phrase that has been used for centuries to describe loud and joyful noises. The origins of this phrase can be traced back to ancient times, where it was believed that the sky or heavens were made up of a solid dome-like structure called the “welkin”.

In medieval times, people believed that when there was thunder or lightning, it was because God or angels were moving around in heaven. This belief led to the idea that if something on earth was loud enough, it could make the welkin shake and cause thunder in heaven.

The Shakespearean Connection

William Shakespeare famously used this phrase in his play Henry V, where he wrote: “Then imitate the action of the tiger; stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood…Cry ‘God for Harry! England and Saint George!'”. This speech is known as one of Shakespeare’s most rousing speeches and is often referred to as “the St Crispin’s Day speech”. In this context, making the welkin ring meant inspiring soldiers with patriotic fervor before going into battle.

Modern Usage

Today, we use this idiom to describe any situation where there is a lot of noise or excitement. It can be used in both positive and negative contexts depending on how it is being used. For example: “The concert last night really made the welkin ring!” or “The arguments between my neighbors always make my ears hurt from all their shouting.”

Usage and Variations of the Idiom “make the welkin ring”

When it comes to idioms, it’s always interesting to explore how they are used in different contexts and how they can be varied to convey slightly different meanings. The idiom “make the welkin ring” is no exception.

Variations of the Idiom

While the original form of this idiom is “make the welkin ring,” there are variations that use similar phrases but with slight differences in wording. For example, some people may say “make the rafters ring” or “make the heavens resound.” These variations still convey a sense of loud noise or celebration, but with a slightly different emphasis on where that noise is coming from.

Usage in Different Contexts

The idiom “make the welkin ring” can be used in a variety of contexts, from describing a raucous party to celebrating an important victory. It can also be used more figuratively, such as when describing someone who has made a significant impact on their community or industry. In each case, however, the underlying meaning remains consistent: something loud and celebratory is happening.

  • At sporting events: When your team scores a goal or wins an important game, you might hear fans shouting and cheering so loudly that they make the welkin ring.
  • In politics: Politicians may use this phrase when rallying supporters during campaigns or after winning elections.
  • In literature: This idiom has been used by famous authors such as Shakespeare and Milton to describe scenes of celebration and joy.

Synonyms, Antonyms, and Cultural Insights for the Idiom “make the welkin ring”


  • Make a lot of noise
  • Cause a commotion
  • Create a stir
  • Raise the roof
  • Set off fireworks
  • Stir up excitement

These phrases convey similar meanings to “make the welkin ring,” which means to create a loud noise or uproar. Each phrase has its own connotations and nuances that may be more appropriate in certain contexts.


While there are no direct antonyms for “make the welkin ring,” some phrases that convey opposite meanings include:

  • Maintain silence/li>
  • Keep quiet/li>
  • Avoid attention/li>
  • Fade into obscurity/li>

These phrases suggest an absence of noise or attention rather than creating it.

Cultural Insights

The idiom “make the welkin ring” originated from Shakespeare’s play Hamlet. It refers to making such a loud noise that even heaven (represented by the sky or firmament) can hear it. In modern usage, this phrase is often used to describe events or situations where people are excited and enthusiastic, causing them to make a lot of noise.

In American culture, sports games are often associated with making the welkin ring. Fans cheer loudly and create an energetic atmosphere at stadiums and arenas. Similarly, political rallies can also involve making the welkin ring as supporters chant slogans and show their enthusiasm for their candidate.

Practical Exercises for the Idiom “make the welkin ring”

In order to truly master an idiom, it is important to not only understand its meaning but also be able to use it in context. The following practical exercises will help you become more comfortable with using the idiom “make the welkin ring” in your everyday conversations.

Exercise 1: Conversation Practice

Find a conversation partner and practice using the idiom “make the welkin ring” in different contexts. Start by brainstorming situations where this idiom might be appropriate, such as celebrating a big accomplishment or cheering on a sports team. Then take turns incorporating the idiom into your conversation naturally.

Exercise 2: Writing Practice

Pick a topic that inspires passion within you, whether it’s politics, music, or something else entirely. Write an article or essay about this topic and try to incorporate the idiom “make the welkin ring” at least once. This exercise will help you get comfortable using idioms in written communication as well as spoken.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Using the Idiom “make the welkin ring”

When it comes to using idioms, it’s important to understand their meanings and how they should be used in context. The idiom “make the welkin ring” is no exception. While it may seem straightforward, there are some common mistakes that people make when using this expression.

Mistake #1: Mispronunciation

The first mistake many people make when using this idiom is mispronouncing “welkin.” It’s important to note that the correct pronunciation is “WELL-kin,” not “WELK-in.” This small error can change the meaning of the phrase and cause confusion for those listening.

Mistake #2: Overuse

Another mistake people make with this idiom is overusing it. While it may be tempting to use a catchy phrase repeatedly, doing so can dilute its impact and effectiveness. It’s best to reserve this expression for moments when you truly want to emphasize a loud noise or commotion.

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