B Line or Beeline – Origin & Meaning

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Danielle McLeod

Danielle McLeod is a highly qualified secondary English Language Arts Instructor who brings a diverse educational background to her classroom. With degrees in science, English, and literacy, she has worked to create cross-curricular materials to bridge learning gaps and help students focus on effective writing and speech techniques. Currently working as a dual credit technical writing instructor at a Career and Technical Education Center, her curriculum development surrounds student focus on effective communication for future career choices.

Idioms are words and phrases used figuratively to create analogical comparisons between literal definitions and the behaviors or actions of something else. They are a great way to provide detail to speech and writing and often incorporate imagery and other figurative devices for audience understanding.

The idiom beeline derives from the literal line a bee makes when traveling back to a hive. It is focused and unwavering, which is why it is so easily incorporated into figurative usage when describing something or someone exhibiting similar focused behaviors.

Let’s take a look at the scientific origins behind this term and how to use it in modern sentences.

What Is the Meaning of Beeline?

B Line or Beeline Origin Meaning

The word beeline can serve as both a noun and a verb, depending on its context within a sentence. It is an idiom derived from a literal observation of bees (the insect) moving in a straight line to the hive.

As a noun, beeline means a direct, straight course.

For example:

  • Whenever we visit the parks, I make a beeline directly to the crepe stand for my favorite snack of the day.
  • We always made a beeline for the front row of the largest and biggest roller coasters when we were younger.
  • The beeline he created led directly to the office, and we followed in his wake, wondering what complaints he would have about us this time.

As a verb, beeline, beelined and beelining means to engage in the action of moving swiftly in a direct, straight course.

For example:

  • Her political opponents beelined to the top of polling after her advertising firm dropped the ball concerning her most recent campaign advances.
  • I was late for the meeting, beelining for the conference room, when I ran smack into our coffee cart.
  • Please, just beeline your way towards me because I’m not sure how much longer the taxi will wait for us.

Is It B Line or Beeline?

Beeline vs Bee Line vs B Line vs B Line Ngram
Beeline, bee-line, b-line and b line usage trend.

Although you may see the word spelled as B line, or even hyphenated as B-line or bee-line, these are considered incorrect spellings, and the correct way to use the word is as the closed compound word, beeline.

Although hyphenation was used early in the word’s inception, modern use dictates it as one word.

Origins of Beeline

The first scientific documentation of the observation of bee behavior making a beeline for the hive is described almost 200 years ago in the June 1828 publication of the American Quarterly Review:

The bee-hunter…encloses them [sc. bees] in a tube, and letting one fly, marks its course, by a pocket compass. Departing to some distance, at right angles to the bee-line just ascertained, he liberates another, observes its course, and thus determines the position of the hive, which lies in the angle made by the intersection of the bee-lines.

Since then, this behavior has been further studied and documented in scientific journals.

Over the course of the last 200 years, this behavior has been applied figuratively to anything that describes a swift, straight, and focused direction.

Let’s Review

Influenced by the straight line a bee makes when returning to the hive, the idiom beeline is often figuratively used to describe the straight and focused line a person or thing makes towards something. It can also be used as a verb to describe the action of moving swiftly and focusing in a direct line toward something.

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