The bee's knees

Example in use: “Thanks so much for helping me with my presentation! I was so unsure about creating my slides in PowerPoint, but you are really the expert and helped me so much. You really are just the bee’s knees!”

Meaning: A way to describe something or someone as really cool or wonderful.

Possible German equivalent: Das Größte!

Possible origin: There is a lot of talk about the real origin of this expression with many ideas such as bees collect pollen on their legs (so they have sweet knees!) or it being a shortened version of the word business or that it comes from an expression in Shakespeare, “the be-all and the end-all”.

However, the most popular theory dates back to the 1920s in the US when it became fashionable to describe things thought to be excellent or fabulous with nonsense expressions such as “snake’s hips” or even “the monkey’s eyebrows”. There are only a few of these funny phrases in use today including “the bee’s knees” and “the cat’s whiskers”.

Knee / niː

Welcome again to our weekly series that hopes to go behind the scenes of some rather typical English expressions.