One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1An insect of a large order distinguished by having forewings that are typically modified into hard wing cases (elytra), which cover and protect the hindwings and abdomen.
Order Coleoptera: see Coleoptera
winged insectView synonyms
- ‘Adult beetles hide in soil during the day and fly to trees to feed at night.’
- ‘He takes out a glass case containing the beautiful beetle, with a golden shell, black spots, and antennae, just as he had originally said.’
- ‘Green June beetles also emerge in July and they also feed on ripe fruit.’
- ‘Over 1,000 species of beetle and spider have been found, many of which are dependent on the trees for their survival.’
- ‘This tiny black female beetle, the size of a poppy seed, is already spreading in the Great Smoky Mountains.’
- ‘They can easily slice right though a beetle's hard armour.’
- ‘A variety of insects, including some beetles and moths, mimic bees and wasps.’
- ‘Ants, beetles, and termites turn over soil and wood.’
- ‘Mark's passion for peculiar pets started when he collected caterpillars, beetles and scorpions as a child.’
- ‘I see cucumber beetles in the garden all summer long.’
- ‘Insects, especially beetles and ants, are the main food of Downy Woodpeckers.’
- ‘The hard sheath over the beetle's wings has a waxy surface dotted with tiny nonwaxy bumps.’
- ‘Although most of the beetles were dead, a number were still quite active and one beetle climbed onto a film vial in the pan and took flight.’
- ‘The beetles' backs are covered with bumps - under a microscope, they resemble a landscape of peaks and valleys.’
- ‘Among all the insects only beetles have these specialized fore-wings.’
- ‘It turns out that only some male horned scarab beetles grow long horns and battle for mates.’
- ‘Only a few insects feed on lichens - some moths and beetles among them.’
- ‘This beetle's black antennae are nearly as long as its body.’
- ‘Rare forms of beetle and fly have been known to live there, and it offers a breeding ground for otters.’
- ‘In ancient Egypt they worshipped all kinds of creatures even insects and bugs like a scarab beetle.’
2British mass noun A dice game in which a picture of a beetle is drawn or assembled.
- ‘There were beetle drives, ginger beer and iced biscuits for the choir in the big house, and seaside outings to Walton-on-the-Naze.’
- ‘They played football, took part in a beetle drive and sang French songs for their English friends.’
- ‘In the old days, we used to meet weekly and ran bingo and beetle drives to raise money.’
- ‘Saturday, April 9, beetle drive in aid of church funds, 7pm.’
- ‘The race meeting is one of the few engagements, outside of the Windsor Wives' beetle drive, which the Queen actively enjoys.’
- ‘Take turns to roll the dice and gradually build your beetle (you must start with the body).’
- ‘Two months before, the players raised £400 for the appeal by holding a beetle drive.’
- ‘Winnie said she remembered shows being suspended during the Second World Ward and members held a number of whist and beetle drives to keep the group together - and also put together packages for the boys on the front line.’
- ‘Ending the evening with a beetle drive which was enjoyed by all.’
no object, with adverbial of direction Make one's way hurriedly.‘the tourist beetled off’
scurry, scamper, scuttle, bustle, hurry, hasten, rush, race, dashView synonyms
- ‘Oh, I pop down in the car frequently enough, park by the Spardis, grab some provisions and beetle off back home.’
- ‘Today being a working day, a couple of utility trucks came beetling down the lane to meet and pass me, driven by a drowsy farm-worker off to start work.’
- ‘And, besides, it gave Graham a place to hide while I beetled over to the display of windchimes and began to put them through their paces.’
- ‘Between us, we put everything away, the Engineer and his missus beetled off amid cheery cries of ‘No problem’, and I staggered off, cat securely clutched in arms, in search of gin.’
- ‘And off he beetled to the back room he set up a couple of days ago, with a clean workbench and a worklight just right for the assembly of electronic components.’
- ‘Among the panelled walls, stained glass skylights and beetling, tuxedoed waiters you will see tributes to famous literary and political regulars.’
Old English bitula, bitela ‘biter’, from the base of bītan ‘to bite’.
1A very heavy mallet, typically with a wooden head, used for ramming, crushing, etc.
- ‘Champ was prepared especially for the festival of Hallowe'en when large quantities of potatoes were pounded with a cylindrical wooden implement called a beetle.’
2A machine used for heightening the lustre of cloth by pressure from rollers.
- ‘It worked perfectly - intensity of light was controlled by pressure on the beetle!’
- ‘Depending on the beetle pressure in a stand and individual susceptibility of baited trees, attacks may range from unsuccessful or no attack, to successfully mass attacked.’
1Ram or crush with a beetle.‘she stood in a shed, beetling grain for the fowl’
2Finish (cloth) with a beetle.
- ‘From sowing to pulling, retting to rippling, spinning to weaving, beetling to bleaching, a long, exhausting and sometimes dangerous business made a cloth so precious it was put under armed guard and cost thieves their lives.’
Old English bētel, of Germanic origin; related to beat.
verb[no object]usually as adjective beetling
(of a rock or a person's eyebrows) project or overhang.‘his eyebrows beetled with irritation’
projecting, protruding, prominent, overhanging, sticking out, jutting out, standing out, bulging, bulbous, pendentView synonyms
- ‘With his massive build, black beetling eyebrows and perma-frown he resembles a pantomime baddie.’
- ‘He glared forbiddingly, his eyebrows beetling together like two fuzzy caterpillars were mating on his forehead.’
- ‘From this distance, about a hundred meters, he could make out beetled brows, and kerchiefs around noses and mouths.’
- ‘her husband demands, the famously intimidating brows beetling like two grizzled insects as he proceeds to fiddle with a radiator.’
- ‘The walk up the ramp from Waverley Station reveals on the left the beetling houses and gothic towers of the Old Town, clinging to the sides of the Castle rock.’
- ‘Alan proceeded to get up from the table without a word and stalk off, his shoulders hunched and his brow beetled.’
- ‘Encouraged by the romantic writers of the nineteenth century, we too find in the life of castle, cathedral, and beetling hilltop towns a poetic refuge from an industrialized world.’
- ‘I only got an impression of mass and darkness and a searing glare from under beetled brows, and then he had disappeared into the crowd.’
- ‘His eyebrows beetled, and he slipped into a deep sleep, with the music of Total Package playing in his ears.’
- ‘Where the beetling cliff falls sheerly to the seething sea beneath,’
- ‘The examiner was a Dr Bull, an elderly anatomy lecturer of rather Victorian appearance, with mutton chop whiskers and beetling eyebrows.’
- ‘His eyes brightened when he saw Krys's face, his brows beetling when he noticed her worried look.’
- ‘And then he began pounding on the table like Kruschev, his eyebrows beetling furiously.’
attributive (of a person's eyebrows) shaggy and projecting.‘thick beetle brows’
- ‘He turned towards her; his eyes flashing under his beetling eyebrows.’
- ‘He furrows his beetle brows and fixes his stare on the turf in front, indifferent to the periphery.’
- ‘Beneath the beetle brow and the thinning combover, however, lurked a singular songwriting talent.’
Mid 16th century (as an adjective): back-formation from beetle-browed, first recorded in Middle English. The verb was apparently used as a nonce word by Shakespeare and was later adopted by other writers.
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