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The birds and the bees

The birds and the bees is a euphemism, which is a word or phrase that is used to indicate a concept that is embarrassing or otherwise too sensitive to refer to plainly and bluntly. We will examine the meaning of the phrase the birds and the bees, where this term came from and some examples of its use in sentences.

The birds and the bees is a euphemism for the facts and mechanics concerning human reproduction. The term the birds and the bees is often used to mean a talk a parent gives to a child concerning where babies come from. The origin of the phrase is uncertain. Many give credit to the poem Work without Hope, written by Samuel Taylor Coleridge in 1825, however the poem in question simply references bees that are stirring and birds on the wing, not the phrase the birds and the bees. In 1928, Cole Porter wrote a song called Let’s Do It, with the refrain: “And that’s why birds do it, bees do it / Even educated fleas do it / Let’s do it, let’s fall in love.” By the 1920s the euphemism the birds and the bees, used to mean the mechanics of human reproduction, was in common usage.


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Examples

The “birds and the bees” conversation with your parents is so incredibly awkward that you hope the topic never comes up again. (The Daily Utah Chronicle)

Whether it’s talking about the birds and the bees or financial decisions, difficult conversations are essential for your children’s growth. (The LA Sentinel)

The “Birds and the Bees” is an irritating song from the 1960s built upon the dreaded sex education discussion parents once had with their kids (well… not my parents). (The Huffington Post)

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