Now, the VOA Special English program, Words and Their Stories.
There are many American expressions about insects -- like bees, forexample. Bees are known as very hard workers. They always appear to bebusy, moving around their homes, or hives.
So you might say you were as busy as a bee if you spent your weekendcleaning your house. In fact, you might say your house was a beehive of activity if your whole family was helping you clean. You also might say youmade a beeline for something if you went there right away. When we go tosee a movie, my friend always makes a beeline for the place where they sellpopcorn.
Here is an expression about bees that is not used much any more, but we like it anyway. We think it was first used in the nineteen twenties. If somethingwas the best of its kind, you might say it was the bee's knees. Now, weadmit that we do not know how this expression developed. If fact, we do noteven know if bees have knees!
If your friend cannot stop talking about something because she thinks it isimportant, you might say she has a bee in her bonnet. If someone asks youa personal question, you might say "that is none of your beeswax." Thismeans none of your business.
Speaking of personal questions, there is an expression people sometimesuse when their children ask, "where do babies come from?" Parents whodiscuss sex and reproduction say this is talking about the birds and thebees.
Hornets are bee-like insects that sometimes attack people. It you are reallyangry, you might say you are mad as a hornet. And if you stir up a hornet's nest, you create trouble or problems.
Butterflies are beautiful insects, but you would not want to have butterflies inyour stomach. That means to be nervous about having to do something, likespeaking in front of a crowd. You would also not want to have ants in your pants. That is, to be restless and unable to sit still.
Here are some expressions about plain old bugs, another word for insects. Ifa friend keeps asking you to do something you do not want to do, you mightask him to leave you alone or "stop bugging me." A friend also might tell youagain and again to do something. If so, you might say he put a bug in your ear.
If you were reading a book in your warm bed on a cold winter's day, you mightsay you were snug as a bug in a rug. And, if you wish someone good night,you might say, "sleep tight -- don't let the bed bugs bite."
This VOA Special English program was written by Shelley Gollust. I'm Faith Lapidus.