Closeup of a bee.
- The definition of an bee is an insect characterized by being of the family Apoidea, having hairy bodies, feeding on pollen and nectar and storing honey.
Yellow jackets, bumble and honey are each an example of a type of bee.
Origin of beeMiddle English ; from Old English beo ; from Indo-European base an unverified form bhei- from source German biene, Old Prussian bitte, Old Irish bech
have a bee in one's bonnet
- to be obsessed with one idea
- to be not quite sane
Origin of beealtered (prob. after bee) ; from dial bean, a social gathering to assist ; from Middle English bene, extra feudal service, a favor, boon ; from Old English ben, compulsory service, request; akin to Old Norse bon: see boon
Origin of beeMiddle English bei, bracelet ; from Old English beah ; from bugen, to bend: see bow
- Any of numerous winged, hairy-bodied, usually stinging hymenopteran insects of the superfamily Apoidea, including both solitary species and social species such as the honeybees, and characterized by sucking and chewing mouthparts for gathering nectar and pollen.
- A social gathering where people combine work, competition, and amusement: a quilting bee.
Origin of beeMiddle English, from Old English bēo; see bhei- in Indo-European roots. Sense 2, perhaps alteration of dialectal bean, voluntary help given to a farmer by his neighbors, from Middle English bene, extra service by a tenant to his lord, from Old English bēn, prayer; see bhā-2 in Indo-European roots.
Origin of beeMiddle English be, a ring, from Old English bēag; see bheug- in Indo-European roots.
(plural bees or been)
From Middle English bee, from Old English bēo, from Proto-Germanic *bijō (compare West Frisian and Dutch bij, Upper German Beie, Danish and Swedish bi), from Proto-Indo-European *bʱi- (compare Old Irish bech (“bee”), Welsh bydaf (“beehive”), Latin fūcus (“drone”), Latvian bite (“bee”), Russian пчела (pčelá, “bee”)).
Possibly from dialectal English bene, been, bean (“help given by neighbours”), from Middle English been, bene (“neighbourly help, prayer, petition, request, extra service given by a tenant to his lord”), from Old English bēn (“prayer, request, petition, favour, compulsory service”) from Proto-Germanic *bōniz (“prayer, request, supplication”), from Proto-Indo-European *bʰā- (“to say, speak”). Cognate with Danish bøn (“prayer”), Dutch ban (“curse”), German Bann (“ban”). More at ban.
- 1658, Sir Thomas Browne, Urne-Burial, Penguin 2005, page 16:
- ...restoring unto the world much gold richly adorning his Sword, two hundred Rubies, many hundred Imperial Coynes, three hundred golden Bees, the bones and horseshoe of his horse enterred with him...
(Northern development of) Old English bēah.