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90s Slang You Should Know


[bee] /bi/
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,
  1. to be obsessed with one idea.
  2. 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.
Origin of bee1
before 1000; Middle English be(e); Old English bīo, bēo; cognate with Dutch bij, Old Saxon bī, bini, Old High German bīa, bini (German Biene), Old Norse bȳ; with other suffixes, Lithuanian bìtė, OPruss bitte, OCS bĭchela, Old Irish bech; *bhi- is a North European stem with the same distribution as wax1, apple; put the bee on probably an allusion to sting in sense “dupe, cheat”
Related forms
beelike, adjective
Can be confused
be, bee.


[bee] /bi/
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.
before 1050; Middle English beh ring, Old English bēag, bēah; cognate with Old Frisian bāg, Old Saxon, Middle Low German bōg, Old High German boug, Old Norse baugr, Sanskrit bhoga-; akin to bow1


Bachelor of Electrical Engineering. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for bee
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • With them we sometimes find the lawful owner, the grub-worm of the bee, but stunted and thin with fasting.

    Insect Adventures J. Henri Fabre
  • But the bee said, “No, I must not be idle; I must go and gather honey.”

  • In experiments carried out on animals this immunity to bee poison has been also induced by repeated application of the irritant.

    Bacteria in Daily Life Mrs. Percy Frankland
  • When is the pollen gathered by the bee and kneaded into the pellet-like mass?

    Our Common Insects Alpheus Spring Packard
  • The bee possesses a thousand poetical associations derived from our early conversancy with the Georgics.

British Dictionary definitions for bee


any hymenopterous insect of the superfamily Apoidea, which includes social forms such as the honeybee and solitary forms such as the carpenter bee See 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
Word Origin
Old English bīo; related to Old Norse , Old High German bīa, Dutch bij, Swedish bi


a social gathering for a specific purpose, as to carry out a communal task or hold competitions: quilting bee
Word Origin
C18: perhaps from dialect bean neighbourly help, from Old English bēn boon


(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
Word Origin
Old English bēag; related to Old High German boug ring, Old Norse bogi a bow


abbreviation (in South Africa)
Black Economic Empowerment: a government policy aimed at encouraging and supporting shareholding by black people
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for bee

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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for bee

bee 1


BEE IN one's BONNET (mid-1800s+)

bee 2


  1. Enough narcotic to fill a penny matchbox, a unit used in selling drugs; b
  2. An obsession with something

Related Terms

put the bee on someone, put the bite on someone

[1960s+ Narcotics; fr box]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with bee


The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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