In politics and sociology, "Belt" is used after a word to describe a region that has similar characteristics. It originated to describe agricultural regions that grew a certain crop "corn belt", "cotton belt", and was then later used to describe other economic similarities "rust belt", and later similarities of lifestyle or climate "sun belt". Now, much as with the -gate suffix, it is used rather liberally. It is also used to describe demographic areas that are not actually connected, I have recently heard, for example, the term "diploma belt" to describe scattered communities with high education rates.

As with any division of the United States by region, the "belts" are a good guide, but should not be taken too seriously, since they often take one characteristic as being more distinctive and important than it is. For example, within the "rust belt", there are many areas that are depressed manufacturing centers, but there are also agricultural areas within that same region, as well as urbanized areas with prosperous economies.

In firearms, a belt is a method of feeding cartridges into the action of a machinegun. Early machineguns used cloth belts, though modern ones are almost exclusively metal. In the most basic form, a belt is a a length of cloth tapes sewn together to form pockets into which cartridges will fit snugly. The feed mechanism of the gun can either pull cartridges from the rear or push them through the belt entirely. Belts are considered disposable feeding devices, in contrast to magazines. Belts or belt links are typically discarded after use. They are usually packaged in ammo cans or belt boxes for use.

Early cloth belts were sometimes reinforced with metal strips than ran crosswise on the belt and kept it from stretching. Cloth belts were used in early machineguns such as Maxim variants and early Browning designs. They tended to retain water and and could stretch, which is why they have been replaced.

Metal belts are either disintegrating or non-disintegrating, in addition to the push-through or pull-out variations. Disintegrating belts use steel belt links which are linked together when cartridges are inserted into them. These are the type most commonly used in NATO weapons today, especially the M13 link used for 7.62 NATO ammunition. Fixed belts use links which are attached to each other even when there are no cartridges in the belt. These were used in the famous MG42 and are also used in many Eastern bloc weapons such as the PKM. Disintegrating belts are generally simpler, consisting solely of links and ammunition, with no other parts needed. Additionally, a disintegrating belt can be shortened or lengthened to any desired amount of rounds, while fixed belts typically come in 50-round segments, which must be linked together in those increments. 

 

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Belt may also refer to the installation of belt armor on a warship. Warships were traditionally most vulnerable to incoming fire at and just below the waterline - damage taken there can cause massive flooding of the interior, sinking the ship. In addition, the machinery spaces of modern vessels (and the magazines of both modern and sailing warships) are below the waterline. Consequentially, this area of the ship required additional protection. It's not practical to armor the entirety of a warship evenly - not only can this cause stability issues due to the changing center of gravity, but you don't need as much armor on the superstructure. Therefore, there tended to be a region of heavy armor reaching from below the waterline to just above it. In this location, it offered some protection against shallow-running torpedoes as well as protection against direct or plunging projectile fire for this critical area. Since it ended up forming a band around the middle of the ship, it was referred to as the belt, and the armor there as belt armor.

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Belt (?), n. [AS. belt; akin to Icel. belti, Sw. balte, Dan. baelte, OHG. balz, L. balteus, Ir. & Gael. balt boder, belt.]

1.

That which engirdles a person or thing; a band or girdle; as, a lady's belt; a sword belt.

The shining belt with gold inlaid. Dryden.

2.

That which restrains or confines as a girdle.

He cannot buckle his distempered cause Within the belt of rule. Shak.

3.

Anything that resembles a belt, or that encircles or crosses like a belt; a strip or stripe; as, a belt of trees; a belt of sand.

4. Arch.

Same as Band, n., 2. A very broad band is more properly termed a belt.

5. Astron.

One of certain girdles or zones on the surface of the planets Jupiter and Saturn, supposed to be of the nature of clouds.

6. Geog.

A narrow passage or strait; as, the Great Belt and the Lesser Belt, leading to the Baltic Sea.

7. Her.

A token or badge of knightly rank.

8. Mech.

A band of leather, or other flexible substance, passing around two wheels, and communicating motion from one to the other.

[See Illust. of Pulley.]

9. Nat. Hist.

A band or stripe, as of color, round any organ; or any circular ridge or series of ridges.

Belt lacing, thongs used for lacing together the ends of machine belting.

 

© Webster 1913.


Belt, v. t. [imp. & p. p. Belted; p. pr. & vb. n. Belting.]

To encircle with, or as with, a belt; to encompass; to surround.

A coarse black robe belted round the waist. C. Reade.

They belt him round with hearts undaunted. Wordsworth.

2.

To shear, as the buttocks and tails of sheep.

[Prov. Eng.]

Halliwell.

 

© Webster 1913.

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