The Bees Knees

Discussion in 'Evolution of Language' started by Patsy Faye, Dec 23, 2017.

  1. Patsy Faye

    Patsy Faye Veteran Member
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    Over here if we like something, we say 'that's the bees knees'
    Now, I wonder why ....... I've never looked closely at a bee, nor do I want to
    but I can't imagine their knees are lovely at all :rolleyes:
    Any other sayings that have 'you' perplexed ...........?
     
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  2. Holly Saunders

    Holly Saunders Veteran Member
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    it's an American saying @Patsy Faye

    The Oxford English Dictionary records the expression "bee's knee" as meaning something small or insignificant from 1797.

    The phrase "the bee's knees", meaning "the height of excellence", became popular in the U.S. in the 1920s, along with "the cat's whiskers" (possibly from the use of these in radio crystal sets), "the cat's pajamas" (pajamas were still new enough to be daring), and similar phrases that didn't endure: "the eel's ankle", "the elephant's instep", "the snake's hip" and "the capybara's spats".

    The phrase's actual origin has not been determined, but several theories include "b's and e's" (short for "be-alls and end-alls") and a corruption of "business" ("It's the beezness.")
     
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  3. Patsy Faye

    Patsy Faye Veteran Member
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    Ah yes - the cat's whiskers, very popular in the 60s and I get it, those whiskers are very adept
    But, the bees knees ........... don't get that one :p
     
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  4. Yvonne Smith

    Yvonne Smith Greeter
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    I can totally see the phrase “bee’s knees” being a corrupted form of someone saying “business”, @Holly Saunders . We had a widespread influx of immigrants here around the turn of that century, many of them learning to speak English, and not pronouncing some words very well.
    I also remember my folks calling something “the cat’s pajamas”, and asking my mom about that because (even at that early age) I knew that cats did NOT wear pajamas.
    It is interesting where some of these old expressions come from.
     
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  5. Patsy Faye

    Patsy Faye Veteran Member
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    Oh yes I still say, that's the business :p
    Some cool cats 'look like' they're wearing Pajamas by their markings :cool:
     
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  6. Holly Saunders

    Holly Saunders Veteran Member
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    Except we spell it Pyjamas lol..... :D
     
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  7. Patsy Faye

    Patsy Faye Veteran Member
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    ha ha - I thought it looked odd or should I say - different :p
     
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  8. Hal Pollner

    Hal Pollner Well-Known Member
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    In the '50's, we high school guys used the term "Bitchin'" to indicate something nice.

    "Hey, did you see Larry's car since he lowered it? It really looks bitchin'!"

    If it was really nice, we would say that it was "MOST Bitchin".

    Hal, Gardena High School, class of 1954.
     
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  9. Patsy Faye

    Patsy Faye Veteran Member
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    Well that's an odd phrase Hal - sounds like something Bette Davis would say :p
     
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  10. Holly Saunders

    Holly Saunders Veteran Member
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    I suppose the modern equivalent of that would be ''wicked'' or ''sick''
     
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  11. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Greeter
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    According to a book that I have called POSH & Other Language Myths, the Bee's Knees was one of a set of nonsense catchphrases from 1920s America, along with the cat's meow, elephant's adenoids, caterpillar's kimono, turtle's neck, duck's quack, eel's ankles, kipper's knickers, monkey's eyebrows, tadpole's teddies, and several others, none of which were intended to make sense, the common feature was the comparison of something of excellent quality to a part of animal with, whenever possible, some alliteration thrown in. The first to arise was the cat's meow and the cat's pajamas.

    The first appearance of bee's knees in print was by Barry Popik in a flapper's dictionary that was published by the Appleton Post-Crescent in Appleton, Missouri on April 28, 1922, where it was defined as meaning "peachy, very nice." By then, it must have already been in use.

    It was a short-lived frivolous slang fashion, and only a few of these expressions have survived, the best known being bee's knees and cat's meow. Although quite well known, these phrases have long been considered old-fashioned and, when used, it is with a tongue-in-cheek attitude.

    A British example from the same time period is the dog's bollocks. This term was also used to refer to the printer's mark of a colon followed by a dash.
     
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  12. Patsy Faye

    Patsy Faye Veteran Member
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    Ugh - how uncoof !
     
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  13. Tom Galty

    Tom Galty Active Member
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    How about the word Cheers, it means two things in the UK and only one in America.
     
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  14. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Greeter
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    Maybe at least two in America. There are the cheers that you do when your team wins, then there is the drinking salutation that you might say after clinking the glasses together, although I'm not sure what it means in that case, but no one is cheering.
     
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  15. Patsy Faye

    Patsy Faye Veteran Member
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    Maybe it comes from the word 'cheerful' :D
     
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  16. Tom Galty

    Tom Galty Active Member
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    No your first example is the word cheering nothing to do with the word cheers.

    In England the reply of Cheers to some one means to different things.

    The first is a thank you for your comment and you agree with what they said

    The second if the letter O is put in front because they insulted you.
     
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  17. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Greeter
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    lNot true at all. I even used the word. The thing that comes out of your mouth when you are cheering are known as cheers. Some are spontaneous, while others (such as with a cheerleader) are predetermined. Cheerleaders lead cheers.
     
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  18. Patsy Faye

    Patsy Faye Veteran Member
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    Cheers = thankyou
    Cheers = a 'toast' to you
    CHEERS - a FAB sitcom !
     
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  19. Tom Galty

    Tom Galty Active Member
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    That's it Cheers= Thankyou.

    I always get a blank look when I use the term in America.

    PS 5 weeks to go till I'm there again.
     
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  20. Patsy Faye

    Patsy Faye Veteran Member
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    Really ! Fab !
    Where are you going to ?

    @Tom Galty
     
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  21. Tom Galty

    Tom Galty Active Member
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    Vegas for 26 days
     
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  22. Bill Boggs

    Bill Boggs Veteran Member
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    I withdraw all my wrongful use of th word cheers. I guess I got my take from the Australians, meaning now I don't know what the Sam Hill they meant.
     
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  23. Patsy Faye

    Patsy Faye Veteran Member
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    I guess you've been before - have a good un :)
     
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  24. Tom Galty

    Tom Galty Active Member
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    Do take great delight when at the Poker Tables in Vegas talk about on a cold winters day in England I start my morning off having a FAGGOT
     
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  25. Patsy Faye

    Patsy Faye Veteran Member
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    Oooer ...........:p
     
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