phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at

Home | Search the website Search | Discussion Forum Home|

Bee line

Posted by Graham Cambray on February 24, 2009 at 19:43

In Reply to: Bee line posted by Janice Simpson on February 24, 2009 at 19:00:

: Regarding the idiom "bee line". I'm just now learning German and have encountered the term "sich beeilen" meaning to "hurry up". It struck me that English speakers here in America might have heard German neighbors use the phrase and then took it over as "bee line" as that fits also with the flight habit of the insect and makes sense in English. Any thoughts on this?


There's a formal entry on this site on the phrase. It is US in origin, but the accepted view is that bees really do travel in a straight line to food sites, and the phrase simply reflects this fact. "As the crow flies" is the same sort of thing. Whilst "making a beeline" has the primary meaning of going directly to somewhere (no stops or deviations) a secondary sense of hurrying is often implied, so I can see why you ask the question, but I know of no support for the link you suggest, and I don't think there's really a need to invoke a link of this kind to explain the term. Or, at least, not in recent times - the word "bee" (via Old English beo) does come from the Germanic languages. Good luck with learning German! (GC)