Have you seen the phrase 'bee line' somewhere and would like to know more about the saying itself, or why someone might have said it? 'Bee line' is a common figurative phrase used in English, though it can be confusing if you have never heard it before. This post unpacks its meaning and common use.
The phrase 'bee line' is a common figurative saying in the English language that can be used to indicate direction as a straight line ahead.
'Bee line' is an informal saying that refers to the apparent direction that bees appear to travel in when they move from one thing to the next.
While butterflies and other flying insects don't always do this, bees seem to follow a completely straight line.
A 'bee line' is a saying that is used to indicate that something or someone is following (or should look in) a straight line from where they are.
Saying the phrase 'bee line' can also indicate that someone is going to go straight to do something, without any other stops or distractions along the way.
Sometimes the saying can be spelled as 'bee-line' and it is still considered valid use of the saying.
While the reverse 'not a bee line' is not common use, it is possible and valid use.
“I'm going to make a beeline right for the Starbucks, or none of us are going to get through tomorrow's term paper.”
“If you don't make a beeline straight for the office, you're going to get lost and go to the coffee station instead.”
“Don't fall for the temptation if you ever go to that part of town. Just make a beeline to the pawn shop and make sure you don't get lost at one of the other restaurants.”
“You had better make a beeline right for the house, or I'm going to know that you stopped at the bar for three beers after work again.”
According to online language resources (including Etymonline), the phrase 'beeline' has been in popular use since at least the mid-1800s when beekeeping became a common pastime and when instructional books for the home were very popular in almost every household.
The phrase comes from 'to line bees' which is a term used in beekeeping to refer to the rehoming of bees.
When someone makes a 'beeline', they are assumed to be going in a straight direction.
Figurative use of the saying 'beeline' has been in popular use since the 1800s, and its use has continued well into modern times.
The website Urban Dictionary first lists the phrase from the year 2018, even though earlier use of the saying is apparent.
Phrases Similar to Bee Line
- Straight line
- 12 o'clock
Phrases Opposite to Bee Line
- Crooked line
What is the Correct Saying?
Ways People May Say Bee Line Incorrectly
There are several ways in which someone can misuse or misunderstand the saying 'bee line'.
The phrase is used to mean 'in a straight direction', though can be misunderstood by anyone who does not understand the context of the phrase.
The phrase 'bee line' is most common in English, and might not translate well as a direct phrase into other languages.
The phrase is commonly misused as 'b-line', which it is not.
Acceptable Ways to Phrase Bee Line
The correct way to use the phrases 'bee line' or 'bee line' is to use them to refer to anything that takes a straight direction, or anything that implies someone is going 'to go straight' somewhere without any stops or distractions.
It is also considered acceptable to say that someone is 'moving in a bee line', or that they 'moved in a bee line' depending on the required form of the sentence.
The phrase is not common as the opposite ('not following a bee line'), although this would theoretically still give a valid phrase with the opposite meaning.