- any hymenopterous insect of the superfamily Apoidea, including social and solitary species of several families, as the bumblebees, honeybees, etc.
- the common honeybee, Apis mellifera.
- a community social gathering in order to perform some task, engage in a contest, etc.: a sewing bee; a spelling bee; a husking bee.
- have a bee in one’s bonnet,
- to be obsessed with one idea.
- to have eccentric or fanciful ideas or schemes: Our aunt obviously has a bee in her bonnet, but we’re very fond of her.
- put the bee on, Informal. to try to obtain money from, as for a loan or donation: My brother just put the bee on me for another $10.
- the bee’s knees, Older Slang. (especially in the 1920s) a person or thing that is wonderful, great, or marvelous: Her new roadster is simply the bee’s knees.
- Also called bee block. Nautical. a piece of hardwood, bolted to the side of a bowsprit, through which to reeve stays.
- Obsolete. a metal ring or bracelet.
- Bachelor of Electrical Engineering.
- any hymenopterous insect of the superfamily Apoidea, which includes social forms such as the honeybee and solitary forms such as the carpenter beeSee also bumblebee, mason bee Related adjective: apian
- busy bee a person who is industrious or has many things to do
- have a bee in one’s bonnet to be preoccupied or obsessed with an idea
- a social gathering for a specific purpose, as to carry out a communal task or hold competitionsquilting bee
- See spelling bee
- nautical a small sheave with one cheek removed and the pulley and other cheek fastened flat to a boom or another spar, used for reeving outhauls or stays
abbreviation for (in South Africa)
- Black Economic Empowerment: a government policy aimed at encouraging and supporting shareholding by black people
stinging insect, Old English beo “bee,” from Proto-Germanic *bion (cf. Old Norse by, Old High German bia, Middle Dutch bie), possibly from PIE root *bhi- “quiver.” Used metaphorically for “busy worker” since 1530s.
Sense of “meeting of neighbors to unite their labor for the benefit of one of their number,” 1769, American English, probably is from comparison to the social activity of the insect; this was extended to other senses (e.g. spelling bee, first attested 1809; Raising-bee (1814) for building construction; also hanging bee “a lynching”). To have a bee in (one’s) bonnet (1825), said of one who is harebrained or has an intense new notion or fancy, is said in Jamieson to be Scottish, perhaps from earlier expressions such as head full of bees (1510s), denoting mad mental activity.
In addition to the idiom beginning with bee
- bee in one’s bonnet
- been around
- been had
- been there, done that
- been to the wars
- birds and the bees
- busy as a beaver (bee)
- make a beeline for
- none of one’s business (beeswax)