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Phrases and Idioms - The Meanings and Origins For Several Common Idioms and Phrases
Recalling a memory; causing a person to remember something or someone.
* Sarah, the person in this photo looks familiar but I just can't place the name. Can you do me a favor and take a look at this picture to see if this person's face rings any bells for you?
Note: A phrase's origins are, much of the time, very unclear. The origins you see listed are the plausible theories floating around for how or where an idiom came from, but they cannot be confirmed with full certainty. The quotes which have the phrase in them are the oldest written forms of the phrase I could find, but keep in mind that older recordings are probably out there somewhere. If you find an earlier citation than what I have, feel free to let me know!

Also, remember that just because you see a saying in an old book or newspaper, let's say from the year 1893, it does not mean the saying originates from that source. In all likelihood, if an expression is already in use in a book or newspaper, then it's probably older. Nevertheless, these old quotes serve as a way to show the reader how far back in history some of these sayings go.
Know Your Phrase -  An Alphabetical List of Common Phrases, Sayings and Idioms With Their Meanings > R-Letter Expressions
The idiom Does That Ring Any Bells?
The origins for this phrase are unclear. However, there are a few theories, and one
theory that stood out the most to me was this: Bells are often used to remind us of
things. For example, school bells are rung to let students know that it is time for
class. Dinner bells are rung to remind people that it is time for dinner. Older alarm
clocks have bells that ring to wake a person up in the morning, or to remind them of
certain tasks. Hence, if a person asks something like: "Does the name Bill ring any
bells?" they are asking if hearing that name reminds you of anything, like hearing the sound of a bell. That's the theory.

An early recording of this phrase in the context we use it in today is found in the San Antonio Light newspaper, November 1937:

"Mariorie Weaver's name may not ring any bells in the movie-going public's consciousness now but
wait until you see her in 'Second Honeymoon.'"
It's a yellow bell.