a brain the size of a BB

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geve

Senior Member
France, French
Hi forum,

I wonder what the letters "BB" stand for in this sentence: (talking about a pitt bull)
"Somewhere, in a brain about the size of a BB, this beast had suddenly decided he remembered me"

I have another (related!) question: does the fact that the writer chooses to write an acronym, mean that it would be pronounced that way?
There were other acronyms in this book, such as "doggie B.O." (still the same pittbull) which I've been able to figure out by myself as "body odor". But are such acronyms commonly used in spoken language?

Thank you :)
 
  • Lancearoni

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    BB1 n. A standard size of lead pellet that measures 7/40 of an inch (0.44 centimeters) in diameter, used in air rifles.

    Essentially, a 'BB' is a small pellet (about half the size of a pea) which is fired out of a 'BB gun.'


    BB in this case is not an acronym, it is the name for this item. However, in answer to your question, acronyms are a part of daily speech in English. We all use them without giving it a second thought.
     

    GenJen54

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    "brain the size of a BB" is a somewhat (?) common expression or insult.

    It's generally used to describe someone who is not very smart.

    Friend One: Did you hear about the bank robber who took off his mask right in front of the security camera?
    Friend Two: Yea. He's got a brain the size of a bb.
     

    geve

    Senior Member
    France, French
    Thanks, Lancearoni. I should have known as "BB" didn't have any dots whereas "B.O." did...

    Is it the usual metaphor for a small brain?
    (We might give vacuous people more credit then in French, since "pea" would be the most common point of comparison)


    [edit] Thanks Gen, I guess this answers my question!
     

    Kelly B

    Senior Member
    USA English
    For more on the thrill of BB guns, see The Christmas Story movie: "... an all-American Christmas in the 1940s. All little Ralphie wants under the tree on Christmas morning is a Daisy Brand Red-Ryder BB rifle. He not only wants it, he's consumed with an aching desire for it..."
    Yes, they really were considered suitable toys for children, and still are, in some rural areas. My brother had one. They're familiar to Americans who grew up with them, of course, but I wonder whether the English would get it?

    I think BBs are smaller than peas.
     

    cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    BBs are not always lead pellets. They may be steel. The ones I remember from childhood were copper colored.

    Here

    is a picture of the first BB gun...also known as an air rifle.

    These are BBs.

    No, Geve, BB is not an abbreviation for This.
     

    GenJen54

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    KellyB said:
    For more on the thrill of BB guns, see The Christmas Story movie: "... an all-American Christmas in the 1940s. All little Ralphie wants under the tree on Christmas morning is a Daisy Brand Red-Ryder BB rifle. He not only wants it, he's consumed with an aching desire for it..."
    But you'll put your eye out! ;)
     

    geve

    Senior Member
    France, French
    Kelly B said:
    Yes, they really were considered suitable toys for children, and still are, in some rural areas.
    Really? Well, that answers the new question that had just popped in my head (I am full of questions tonight), how can we be sure people would know what "BB" means...

    Cuchu, I will not say a thing about the fact that you would post the picture of a famous French icon in a thread called "a brain the size of a BB" :rolleyes: (but now that you've mentioned it, maybe I would keep "BB" if I had to translate this)
     

    geve

    Senior Member
    France, French
    Good thing to know! So you don't have to say "...the size of a pea", just "pea-brain"? Would "BB-brain" work too?

    Are there any other small items that are commonly used to measure a brain?
     

    Kelly B

    Senior Member
    USA English
    mais si, I have the impression that we are talking about more or less the same thing...;)

    If I were writing your original sentence, geve, I'd probably say Somewhere in his little pea-brain, this beast had suddenly decided he remembered me"

    I know that little pea-brain looks redundant, but it feels right (idiomatic?) to me.
     

    timpeac

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    geve said:
    Really? Well, that answers the new question that had just popped in my head (I am full of questions tonight), how can we be sure people would know what "BB" means...
    If you had said it to me I wouldn't have known what you meant. But then - I don't think we have "BB guns" either (is this what we call a pellet gun fellow Britishers?)
     

    geve

    Senior Member
    France, French
    timpeac said:
    If you had said it to me I wouldn't have known what you meant. But then - I don't think we have "BB guns" either (is this what we call a pellet gun fellow Britishers?)
    I would never say that to you Tim! ;)
    Do you have a BE alternative to "pea-brain"?

    Yes, Brigitte Bardot did not become famous for her intelligence... But when I read BB in this sentence, I mentally pronounced it the English way, so the connection with her didn't appear obvious in my little billiard-ball-brain (which explains the hysterical laugh that caught me when I clicked on Cuchu's link)
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    I've no idea if it is still true, but I always understood BB to be a size between B and BBB. What size a BB should be, I don't know.
    Here in GB, which is BE-land, we have pellet-guns and air-rifles. They are normally .22 or .177. Which of these is BB? Or has BB come to be a generic label without reference to size?
     

    rsweet

    Senior Member
    English, North America
    According to one source I found, the B-B gun got its name from the fact that it shoots ball bearing type pellets.
     

    geve

    Senior Member
    France, French
    timpeac said:
    We say "pea-brain" too:)
    Yes, I would think that peas are more widespread than BBs :)
    But what I was trying to say was: are there other small stuff to which you could compare the brain of a stupid person, in BE?

    panjandrum said:
    I've no idea if it is still true, but I always understood BB to be a size between B and BBB. What size a BB should be, I don't know.
    Ok, here's my dilemma here: it sometimes happen that what I understand as a joke is in fact a serious comment ; and sometimes I take it seriously when it's just humour... It's not really a problem, since in the end it's always been fun. But as it might very well be one of those situations here, I'd rather clear it up: Do you mean that that's what you've always thought when hearing the expression "a brain the size of a BB"?
     

    timpeac

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    geve said:
    Yes, I would think that peas are more widespread than BBs :)
    But what I was trying to say was: are there other small stuff to which you could compare the brain of a stupid person, in BE?
    Nothing springs to mind. Edit - "sense of a sparrow" is the same kind of thing, I suppose.

    geve said:
    Ok, here's my dilemma here: it sometimes happen that what I understand as a joke is in fact a serious comment ; and sometimes I take it seriously when it's just humour... It's not really a problem, since in the end it's always been fun. But as it might very well be one of those situations here, I'd rather clear it up: Do you mean that that's what you've always thought when hearing the expression "a brain the size of a BB"?
    Hmmm, I can sympathise with the "not getting the joke" in a foreign language, but I must admit I don't see what you mean here. I would interpret this as a jokey comment because of course the brain isn't really that size. I think I must be misunderstanding you here. If you said someone had the brain the size of a BB then I think you would seriously mean they are stupid, but not seriously mean that the brain is that size. Make sense?:eek: :D
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    geve said:
    Ok, here's my dilemma here: it sometimes happen that what I understand as a joke is in fact a serious comment ; and sometimes I take it seriously when it's just humour... It's not really a problem, since in the end it's always been fun. But as it might very well be one of those situations here, I'd rather clear it up: Do you mean that that's what you've always thought when hearing the expression "a brain the size of a BB"?
    Carefully laying aside all sense of humour and flippancy for a moment.
    Apart from the fun of all those B sounds coming together in the sentence, I wasn't joking at all.
    I have never heard anyone described as having a brain the size of a BB.
    I have heard of a BB gun, which I believed to be an air gun of some kind.
    In the UK, such things are known as a two-two, or a one-seven-seven, depending on the size of the pellet.
    There are lots of things that are graded in letters like B BB BBB, so I assumed that these BB guns were named for the size of the pellet as well. I hadn't thought a great deal about how big BB, B or BBB might be.
     

    nycphotography

    Senior Member
    American English
    ibby said:
    BB guns - are pellet guns, that can suprisingly cause quite a bit of damage!
    Technically a BB is speherical (thus the name "ball bearing") and generally made of steel.

    A pellet is cylindrical, or cylindrical with a conical point, and is generally made from lead. Pellets are more efficient and more powerful /faster (for the same air charge) than BBs are.

    A BB as used for a BB gun is always .177.

    A pellet gun can use either .177 or .22 pellets.

    A .22 pellet gun = a .22 air rifle = air powered.

    A .22 = a gunpowder powered cartridge fed firearm.

    There are also BB Slingshots which can take any size BB (or spherical object).

    A shotgun, however, fires shot, or "pellets" which happen to be spherical. Go figure.
     

    the-pessimist

    Senior Member
    English, United Kingdom
    Perhaps.. but to me - a BB gun is a type of pellet gun.

    Whether pellet gun means something else technically, I'm not sure - I'll take your word for it!
     
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