excellent, outstanding.' name='description'> bee's knees - definition and meaning


from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun idiomatic, dated Something excellent, outstanding.


from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Unknown. One of many such informal phrases coined in the early 20th century for no apparent reason, of which only a few have endured. One possible origin is from the British expression "B's and E's" meaning "be all and end all". Another is a playful mispronunciation of business.


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  • See Cat's pajamas.

    May 23, 2007

  • Flapper lingo for "excellent". According to this site, an early printed reference is from The Newark Advocate, April 1922.

    September 28, 2007

  • Ah, Newark. No wonder. ;-)

    September 28, 2007

  • it's a shame the use of "a bee's knee" in the sense of smallness is so long outmoded. can you think of any image that surpasses its cuteness?

    July 22, 2008

  • Think of a bee,

    You are its knees.

    You waft through me like a summer's breeze.

    Can I come 'round Tuesday please?

    -- Bernard L. Black, Black Books

    July 31, 2008

  • cf. terms which did not survive their 1920's origin such as "elephant's instep", "cat's whiskers", "eel's ankle", and snake's hip".

    Wordies: Go find some old-time radio show transcripts or book records to pin these terms down to a time or place!

    January 11, 2009