30 Dec 2020
One of the books I have on the go at the moment is by a lexicographer – because that’s the way I get my jollies!
Essentially, a lexicographer is someone who compiles dictionaries, but this authors’ knowledge of the origins of words in the English language is what I find fascinating.
I could bore you senseless with a lot of the ‘oh that’s interesting’ parts of the book – and possibly will – but one of the many fascinating things I read about were words relating to bees.
Not hives and honey and anaphylaxis – but the many words we have, that reference bees.
At church we have busy bees quite frequently – obviously referencing the swarm of busy little souls who come to get the work done. What the phrase should relate to is a small group of quite elderly bees who know better than anyone else how stuff should be done, and who will let you know if you’re doing it the wrong way.
Spelling bee was a term I couldn’t relate back to the bee reference, although my favourite lexicographer informs me that it basically refers to an assembled group, much like a quilting bee or a barn-raising bee. Obviously bees are the only animals that congregate together for a common purpose, although ‘flies on cow dung’ might feel a little aggrieved by this. Again, my lexicographer tells me the bee word was chosen because of the social nature of the insect, whereas flies are just on the dung for their own enjoyment.
Making a beeline for something, again didn’t make sense to someone who regularly watches bees flitting about from one flower to the next, or trying in vain to get up close and personal with my yellow car (bees love it). So is a beeline a zig-zagged path? No – apparently when a bee is returning to the hive, it doesn’t deviate from its path at all. They must take their cues from crows who obviously also only fly in straight lines – ‘as the crow flies’.
I hope you all aren’t worried that I’ve got a bee in my bonnet about all these bee words. I’ve never actually had a bee in my bonnet – possibly because I don’t think I’ve ever had a bonnet. I have had a spider on the ceiling in my car once, which caused me to pull over to the side of the road and leap out of the car, leaving my infant son strapped into the car to fend for himself. I guess a bee in a bonnet might cause a similar reaction!
If all this bee talk has upset you, and you are pouting your bee-stung lips in disgust, all I can say is….
Don’t worry, bee happy.