Origin unknown. Possibly a humorous mispronunciation of business. First known use: 1922.
- Used other than as an idiom: see bee, 's, knee.
- (entomology) corbiculae.
- (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.
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").
- (Something or someone excellent): ant's pants, cat's meow, cat's pajamas, cat's pyjamas, cat's whiskers, dog's bollocks, the bomb, the business, (vulgar) the shit, (vulgar) the tits
something excellent, outstanding
- Mark Israel, alt.usage.english FAQ
- Kevin Cook, Dubbel Dutch, Kemper Conseil Publishing, 2001, p. 222
- "Bee's knees" in Michael Quinion, Ballyhoo, Buckaroo, and Spuds, 2004.