A bee in our bonnet?

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Tommy Lala

New Member
Chinese
So I always say I have got a bee in my bonnet.

But do I have to make "bee" or/and "bonnet" plural when I say "our"?

So should I still say "we have got a bee in our bonnet"?

Thanks.
 
  • velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    I don't think I've ever heard this expression used in the plural (or in the first person) before. It's usually said in criticism of someone, so including oneself in this criticism is slightly odd. If you're just joking, either "We have a bee in our bonnet" or "We (all) have bees in our bonnets" might do.

    How exactly were you thinking of using it, Tommy?

    Edit: Here's an example of the phrase used in the plural (Going Nuts, Theresa Bernstein, 1985)

    When women go nuts
    they have bees in their bonnets.
    When men hit the slats
    they have bats in the belfry

    The Poetic Canvas
     
    Last edited:

    Tommy Lala

    New Member
    Chinese
    I don't think I've ever heard this expression used in the plural (or in the first person) before. It's usually said in criticism of someone, so including oneself in this criticism is slightly odd. If you're just joking, either "We have a bee in our bonnet" or "We (all) have bees in our bonnets" might do.

    How exactly were you thinking of using it, Tommy?

    Edit: Here's an example of the phrase used in the plural (Going Nuts, Theresa Bernstein, 1985)

    When women go nuts
    they have bees in their bonnets.
    When men hit the slats
    they have bats in the belfry

    The Poetic Canvas
    I am not quite sure. Having a bee in one's bonnet means there is something that bothers one. So If I want to say there is something that bothers us, then the "bee" should be singular because it is just that one thing that concerns us. But how about the "bonnet". Should it remain singular?

    So for example, we have got a bee in our bonnet, and that bee is called public sex.

    Would that work?
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    We say that someone has a bee in their bonnet when they are rather obsessed with something. I'm not sure that you have understood the essence of the phrase.

    have a bee in your bonnet

    keep talking about something again and again because you think it is very important:

    She never stops talking about dieting - she's got a real bee in her bonnet about it.
    have a bee in your bonnet Meaning in the Cambridge English Dictionary
    As in that dictionary example, there is often an implied criticism - the speaker thinks this behaviour is excessive.

    Edit: A third person example using your suggestion:

    He's a bit of a bore; he has a bee in his bonnet about "sex in public". He hardly talks about anything else these days.
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    have a bee in one's bonnet:
    As you can see from that dictionary example, there is implied criticism of the person with the "bee" - although the aunt is rather obsessed, we are still very fond of her.
     

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    Saying that somebody has a "bee in their bonnet" doesn't indicate their opinion! So a person with a "bee in their bonnet" about sex in public might be keen on having sex in public. We can't tell without context and further information.
    Another thing about the expression is that it is usually dismissive of the person's concerns. They feel passionately about something that's not worth bothering about.
    The expression is used when speaking about others, not about oneself.
     

    DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    I don't think I've ever seen that expression used in the first person, and certainly not in the first person plural. Given that it generally denotes an unnecessary obsession with something trivial, it's a lot more natural to use in the third person.

    The plural would be "They've [all] got bees in their bonnets", although something like "They've got a bee in their collective bonnet" would work for me. :)
     

    Tommy Lala

    New Member
    Chinese
    have a bee in one's bonnet:
    As you can see from that dictionary example, there is implied criticism of the person with the "bee" - although the aunt is rather obsessed, we are still very fond of her.
    What have I not understood correctly?

    I think you can use this phrase to say something is important or something concerns you. The result of which is that you can't stop talking about it. And from what I gather, it is more common to use it when you are angry about something.

    Check this out: Learning English - Grammar, Vocabulary & Pronunciation - To have a bee in your bonnet
    Quote: If you have a bee in your bonnet about something, you are obsessed with it and can't stop thinking about it. This phrase is often used when you are worried or angry about something. The word 'bonnet' refers to a kind of hat.

    Saying "I have got a bee in the bonnet, and that bee is called public sex" somewhat implies that you are concerned about this very phenomenon. Surely, it is not absolutely clear. But it will become clearer as you continue reading. I fail to see anything wrong with this sentence. ^^

    My question is how to use it when a group of people are angry about something (or think something is important) and talk about it all the time.
     

    Tommy Lala

    New Member
    Chinese
    I don't think I've ever seen that expression used in the first person, and certainly not in the first person plural. Given that it generally denotes an unnecessary obsession with something trivial, it's a lot more natural to use in the third person.

    The plural would be "They've [all] got bees in their bonnets", although something like "They've got a bee in their collective bonnet" would work for me. :)
    But if they all have the same concern for something? Shouldn't there only be one "bee", thus singular? Then should we say "they have got a bee in their bonnet" or "they have got a bee in their bonnets"?

    I prefer the latter. Because it kinda tells you that they are different individuals who share the same concern. One bee, but more than one bonnets. I am just not sure if it is the idiomatic way of saying it. :)
     

    DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    I think you can use this phrase to say something is important or something concerns you. The result of which is that you can't stop talking about it. And from what I gather, it is more common to use it when you are angry about something.
    The problem with this is that the phrase "bee in the bonnet" is generally a bit uncomplimentary: it denotes that 'you' may think it's important, but no-one else does and they wish you'd stop going on about it all the time. So because of that implication, we don't generally use it about ourselves.
    My question is how to use it when a group of people are angry about something (or think something is important) and talk about it all the time.
    See the second paragraph of post #7.
    But if they all have the same concern for something? Shouldn't there only be one "bee", thus singular? Then should we say "they have got a bee in their bonnet" or "they have got a bee in their bonnets"?

    I prefer the latter. Because it kinda tells you that they are different individuals who share the same concern. One bee, but more than one bonnets. I am just not sure if it is the idiomatic way of saying it. :)
    You could do it as a singular, which is basically the second option I gave you in post #7. But it's more or less a set phrase, and set phrases rarely sound idiomatic if you try and alter them: I don't think "a bee in their bonnets" works.
     

    Tommy Lala

    New Member
    Chinese
    The problem with this is that the phrase "bee in the bonnet" is generally a bit uncomplimentary: it denotes that 'you' may think it's important, but no-one else does and they wish you'd stop going on about it all the time. So because of that implication, we don't generally use it about ourselves.
    See the second paragraph of post #7.
    You could do it as a singular, which is basically the second option I gave you in post #7. But it's more or less a set phrase, and set phrases rarely sound idiomatic if you try and alter them: I don't think "a bee in their bonnets" works.
    Yeah that is what I think haha. Thank you so much. :)
     

    PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    He has a bee in his bonnet - He is obsessed by a particular idea
    He has got several bees in his bonnet. - He is obsessed by several [separate] ideas
    They have a bee in their bonnet.- They are obsessed by a particular idea
    They have bees in their bonnets. They are individually obsessed by several [separate] ideas.

    The bee symbolizes an idea flying around in their 'bonnet' (i.e. 'head')
     

    Tommy Lala

    New Member
    Chinese
    He has a bee in his bonnet - He is obsessed by a particular idea
    He has got several bees in his bonnet. - He is obsessed by several [separate] ideas
    They have a bee in their bonnet.- They are obsessed by a particular idea
    They have bees in their bonnets. They are individually obsessed by several [separate] ideas.

    The bee symbolizes an idea flying around in a disorganised manner in their 'bonnet' (i.e. 'head')
    That makes it really clear. :) And I like your quote haha.
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    I think you can use this phrase to say something is important or something concerns you.
    I still think you are ignoring the nuances. This concern is rather obsessive and the speaker doesn't really approve of it.

    I have bee in my bonnet about WR members who use chatspeak in their posts.

    I would say this only in a self-deprecating or self-mocking way. I know it's silly of me, but it annoys me quite a lot and I am unreasonably preoccupied with it. I wouldn't use the phrase about something that is really important to me and about which I am entirely serious.
     
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