bee's knees

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female carpenter bee's knee


Origin unknown. Possibly a humorous mispronunciation of business. First known use: 1922.


bee's knees (plural only)

  1. Used other than as an idiom: see bee,‎ knee.
  2. (entomology) corbiculae.
  3. (idiomatic, dated, usually with the) Something or someone excellent, outstanding.
    We had strawberry shortcake for breakfast on Saturday and the kids thought it was the bee's knees.
    I used to play in a band when I was younger. We had a few fans and we thought we were the bee's knees.
    There is a new bee's knees every few minutes in New York.

Usage notes[edit]

Normally used as "the bee's knees", rarely without the article (then usually with a possessive, as in "her bee's knees" or "my new bee's knees").