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The meaning and origin of the expression: Bell, book and candle

Bell, book and candle

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What's the meaning of the phrase 'Bell, book and candle'?

The phrase 'bell, book and candle' is the final line of an incantation denoting excommunication from the Catholic church.

What's the origin of the phrase 'Bell, book and candle'?

In the excommunication ceremony officials close the book, quench the candle and toll a bell, as for someone who had died. The phrase is old and first appears, in Old English, circa 1300:

"Curced in kirc an sal ai be wid candil, boke, and bell."

Shakespeare used the phrase in King John, 1595:

Bell, book, and candle shall not drive me back,
When gold and silver becks me to come on.

Bell, book and candle was taken up as the title of a 1958 US film starring Kim Novak.

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