bee in bonnet

have a bee in bonnet

Meaning

  • be possessed with one thought or scheme
  • to be obsessed with an idea

Example Sentences

  1. The man has a real bee in his bonnet in trying to find out about how people would react in this situation.
  2. I prefer not to show that I have a bee in my bonnet about this plan.
  3. He’s got a real bee in his bonnet about people keeping many pets.

Origin

The phrase has been around since the 1500’s. The phrase is similar to “bee’s in your head” which means the same thing but was more appropriate for men. Bonnets used to be a head scarf that would be worn by women and the phrase directly reflects the agitation that could be caused if there were a bee in their head / bonnet. The obsession to get it off would side line anything else that may be more important in nature too. The bonnet could refer to the headgear that a beekeeper wears in order to be protected from getting attacked. There is a speculation that this phrase has a Scottish background.

The literary origin is seen in Alexander Douglas’s worked titled “Aeneis” which was published in the year 1513 but it was not exact. In 1790, Reverend Philip Doddridge’s “Letters” cited the phrase as it is used currently.

B 1 Thought

1 Thought

The term has changed from the earlier legend, The thistle and bee story, https://macinnes.org/symbols/bee_story.html

The Chief of Kinlochaline’s answer was “Friendship will ever be ours, whilst the bee on the thistle is with me and with every member of the Clan MacInnes who carries the favour in his bonnet.”

This would suggest it is good to have a bee in the bonnet, and not scatterbrained.

- Fitz Turner January 15, 2022

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