What does it mean when you say... | Almanac.com

What does it mean when you say...

Print Friendly and PDF
What does it mean when you say someone is the bee’s knees?
The phrase is usually used to describe someone that is admired or outstanding, or something that is of high quality or ideally suited.

In the 18th century, the expression the bee’s knee” (singular) meant “small” or “insignificant.” Later, in the early 1900s, the “bee’s knees” (plural) meant “non-existent.” Both of these meanings fell out of use. In the early 1920s, however, the current meaning came into play, the phrase joining other nonsense phrases related to animals, such as “the cat’s pajamas” and similar expressions.

The origin of “the bee’s knees” is not clear, but, contrary to some suggestions, there is no known historical connection to the goodness of pollen attached to a bee’s “knees” or joints, nor was it derived to represent the knees of world champion Charleston dancer Bee Jackson, who gained fame in the 1920s after the expression first originated, although her popularity may have served to promote the saying.”