Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Bees Knees


I was thinking about my grandmother today. She was a free spirit, always dressed with utmost style and good taste, and (for want of a better description) always thought outside the box. Some of her phrases such as, "Wow, that's the cat's pajamas!" Or "That's the bees knees!" have carried over into my vernacular.

Before I continue using her lingo, 'I thought', it'll be a good idea to look up what Gram's phrases actually mean because I've been known to throw out some words that have totally different meanings than what I originally thought, such as "tube steak", thinking it actually meant hot dog.

Both "cat's pajamas" and "bees knees" originated in the 20's and was part of the typical vocabulary of the flappers, young women whose avant garde wardrobe and free-spirited disregard of social conservatism epitomized the spirit of the Roaring Twenties. My grandmother certainly was all of that and more. I miss her.

"Cat's pajamas", and "bees knees" both mean "that is great", "wonderful", or "the hottest new thing". I kind of figured that out based on how it's used in context. But you never know. At least I haven't embarrased myself too much this time.

Anyone under 50 always laughs and questions the phrase, "Hey that's the bees knees." Now I know where it originated and can explain the history along with the wonderful memories and spirited presence my grandmother continues to give me.

4 comments:

lightly said...

when it comes to getting your knickers in a knot you seem hot to trot

knickers in a knot and
hot to trot
can be taken 2 ways you tell me which one i used in the above statement.

the english language is such a beautiful thing

Pam said...

lightly: You are really quite poetic.

Knickers in a knot is kinda like getting your panties twisted. I get my knickers in a knot every time I look at my utility bill.

Hot to trot is another one of those idioms that mean eager to begin, poised for action, so I guess I could have my knickers in a knot while I'm hot to trot. OR knickers in a knot makes me hot to trot.

Oh never mind. The English language IS a beautiful thing loaded with fun word play.

It's makes for some interesting communication affectionately referred to as double entendres.

ian in hamburg said...

Groovy post. :-)

Pam said...

Ian: Great to hear from you again.
Glad you like the post.