The Bee’s Knees…Where Did That Phrase Come From?

I have heard several people use the phrase “the bee’s knees” lately and wondered where it came from. I thought the answer was kind of interesting along with the examples of similar phrases that have fallen out of the vernacular but in all honesty should be used more often like “the elephant’s instep” and the “eel’s ankle”. Here is the information from alt.usage.english.faq


"A bee's "corbiculae", or pollen-baskets, are located on its
tibiae (midsegments of its legs).  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" (pyjamas were
still new enough to be daring), and similar phrases which made less
sense and didn't endure:  "the eel's ankle", "the elephant's
instep", "the snake's hip".  Stories in circulation about the
phrase's origin include:  "b's and e's", short for "be-alls and
end-alls"; and a corruption of "business"."

0 Responses to The Bee’s Knees…Where Did That Phrase Come From?

  1. Philip III says:

    Never heard of that one. When my Mom talked about her youth, or even when I was young, she would refer to it as when we “were knee-high to a grasshopper.”

  2. preacherman says:

    Me either.
    Thanks for sharing this with us Matt.
    I hope you have a great memorial day weekend.

  3. Darin says:

    I’m not sure what to do with that one.

    The snake’s hip just doesn’t roll off the tongue.

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