Eager beaver is an idiom that may not be as old as you think. An idiom is a word, group of words or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. Often using descriptive imagery, common idioms are words and phrases used in the English language in order to convey a concise idea, and are often spoken or are considered informal or conversational. English idioms can illustrate emotion more quickly than a phrase that has a literal meaning, even when the etymology or origin of the idiomatic expression is lost. An idiom is a metaphorical figure of speech, and it is understood that it is not a use of literal language. Figures of speech have definitions and connotations that go beyond the literal meaning of the words. Mastery of the turn of phrase of an idiom or other parts of speech is essential for the English learner. Many English as a Second Language students do not understand idiomatic expressions such as beat around the bush, ballpark figure, let the cat out of the bag, hit the sack, Achilles heel, barking up the wrong tree, kick the bucket, a dime a dozen, under the weather, piece of cake, when pigs fly, and raining cats and dogs, as they attempt to translate them word for word, which yields only the literal meaning. In addition to learning vocabulary and grammar, one must understand the phrasing of the figurative language of idiomatic phrases in order to know English like a native speaker. We will examine the meaning of the expression eager beaver, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.
The idiom eager beaver refers to someone who is enthusiastic and industrious, someone who goes above and beyond what is expected of them or desired of them. The idiom eager beaver usually carries a connotation of being overzealous and may imply a slight air of condescension or ridicule, but not always. It is usually used in reference to a child or a subordinate. The phrase eager beaver first appeared in the 1940s and is a near rhyme. A near rhyme is one in which two words almost rhyme. The beaver is an animal that is well known for being hard-working and industrious. It is featured in a popular simile, busy as a beaver. A simile is a phrase used in a sentence that is a comparison of one thing with something else using the word like or the word as. The plural form of eager beaver is eager beavers.
An eager beaver on his first field assignment, he gets caught in all his own booby traps, and manages to electrocute himself, set himself on fire, get a bucket stuck on his head, and lock himself in his own handcuffs. (Thorold News)
I was an eager beaver right out of college, and if I was told to fax something I wanted to be the best faxer in the world. (Reuters)
Pizano will play Moses Hernandez, an eager beaver with a hero complex. (Variety Magazine)
Apte, in his late 80s today and who continued to play senior level club cricket till his mid 60s, told us eager beavers that, “He had never forgotten that lesson all his life.” (Asian Age)