Anonymous asked in 社會與文化語言 · 1 decade ago

origin of spelling bee

we've heard about "spelling bee" , but why is it called this way? does it have anything to do with bees? if anyone knows the origin to "spelling bee" pls help me out.

3 Answers

  • vic
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    What is the origin of the term spelling bee?    The word bee, as used in spelling bee, is a language puzzle that has never been satisfactorily accounted for. A fairly old and widely-used word, it refers to a community social gathering at which friends and neighbors join together in a single activity (sewing, quilting, barn raising, etc.), usually to help one person or family. The earliest known example in print is a spinning bee, in 1769. Other early occurrences are husking bee (1816), apple bee (1827), and logging bee (1836). Spelling bee is apparently an American term. It first appeared in print in 1875, but it seems certain that the word was used orally for several years before that. Those who used the word, including most early students of language, assumed that it was the same word as referred to the insect. They thought that this particular meaning had probably been inspired by the obvious similarity between these human gatherings and the industrious, social nature of a beehive. But in recent years scholars have rejected this explanation, suggesting instead that this bee is a completely different word. One possibility is that it comes from the Middle English word bene, which means "a prayer" or "a favor" (and is related to the more familiar word boon). In England, a dialectal form of this word, been or bean, referred to "voluntary help given by neighbors toward the accomplishment of a particular task." (Webster's Third New International Dictionary). Bee may simply be a shortened form of been, but no one is entirely certain.

    2005-05-17 14:56:54 補充:

    I've also found another explanation which is similar to mista's answer. You cna go to "" for more information. It's in the paragraph of "All together now"~~

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    The word "bee" also means a meeting for combined work and amusement (esp of neighbours and friends). That's why "spelling bee" means a spelling contest/game.I think it has nothing to do with the insect, "bee".This kind of avtivity need many people to  work together just like bees, I think that's why it is called.

    2005-05-16 12:10:28 補充:

    oops, I spelt "activity" wrong. typo, sorry. :P

    2005-05-18 22:43:45 補充:

    it's okey, I've learnt a lot , too. :D

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    我們已經聽說過"拼寫蜜蜂",但是它為什麼被以這種方法叫? 它與蜜蜂有關嗎? 如果有人對"拼寫蜜蜂"知道出身,pls幫助我度過難關。

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