bee's knees



Unknown, with reduplication. 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.

First known use: 1922.


bee's knees (plural only)

  1. (idiomatic, dated, usually with the) Something or someone excellent, outstanding.
    We had strawberry shortcake for breakfast on Saturday and the kids thought it was the bee's knees.
    I used to play in a band when I was younger. We had a few fans and we thought we were the bee's knees.
    There is a new bee's knees every few minutes in New York.

Usage notesEdit

Normally used as "the bee's knees", rarely without the article (then usually with a possessive, as in "her bee's knees" or "my new bee's knees").




Last modified on 6 October 2013, at 22:29