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.
winged insectView synonyms
- ‘I see cucumber beetles in the garden all summer long.’
- ‘In ancient Egypt they worshipped all kinds of creatures even insects and bugs like a scarab beetle.’
- ‘Insects, especially beetles and ants, are the main food of Downy Woodpeckers.’
- ‘Adult beetles hide in soil during the day and fly to trees to feed at night.’
- ‘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.’
- ‘This beetle's black antennae are nearly as long as its body.’
- ‘Ants, beetles, and termites turn over soil and wood.’
- ‘The hard sheath over the beetle's wings has a waxy surface dotted with tiny nonwaxy bumps.’
- ‘They can easily slice right though a beetle's hard armour.’
- ‘Rare forms of beetle and fly have been known to live there, and it offers a breeding ground for otters.’
- ‘Only a few insects feed on lichens - some moths and beetles among them.’
- ‘A variety of insects, including some beetles and moths, mimic bees and wasps.’
- ‘Mark's passion for peculiar pets started when he collected caterpillars, beetles and scorpions as a child.’
- ‘Green June beetles also emerge in July and they also feed on ripe fruit.’
- ‘He takes out a glass case containing the beautiful beetle, with a golden shell, black spots, and antennae, just as he had originally said.’
- ‘This tiny black female beetle, the size of a poppy seed, is already spreading in the Great Smoky Mountains.’
- ‘It turns out that only some male horned scarab beetles grow long horns and battle for mates.’
- ‘Over 1,000 species of beetle and spider have been found, many of which are dependent on the trees for their survival.’
2British mass noun A dice game in which a picture of a beetle is drawn or assembled.
- ‘Two months before, the players raised £400 for the appeal by holding a beetle drive.’
- ‘There were beetle drives, ginger beer and iced biscuits for the choir in the big house, and seaside outings to Walton-on-the-Naze.’
- ‘In the old days, we used to meet weekly and ran bingo and beetle drives to raise money.’
- ‘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.’
- ‘Take turns to roll the dice and gradually build your beetle (you must start with the body).’
- ‘The race meeting is one of the few engagements, outside of the Windsor Wives' beetle drive, which the Queen actively enjoys.’
- ‘Saturday, April 9, beetle drive in aid of church funds, 7pm.’
- ‘They played football, took part in a beetle drive and sang French songs for their English friends.’
- ‘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
- ‘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.’
- ‘Oh, I pop down in the car frequently enough, park by the Spardis, grab some provisions and beetle off back home.’
- ‘Among the panelled walls, stained glass skylights and beetling, tuxedoed waiters you will see tributes to famous literary and political regulars.’
- ‘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, 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.’
- ‘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.’
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.
- ‘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.’
- ‘It worked perfectly - intensity of light was controlled by pressure on the beetle!’
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
- ‘And then he began pounding on the table like Kruschev, his eyebrows beetling furiously.’
- ‘His eyes brightened when he saw Krys's face, his brows beetling when he noticed her worried look.’
- ‘With his massive build, black beetling eyebrows and perma-frown he resembles a pantomime baddie.’
- ‘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.’
- ‘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.’
- ‘His eyebrows beetled, and he slipped into a deep sleep, with the music of Total Package playing in his ears.’
- ‘The examiner was a Dr Bull, an elderly anatomy lecturer of rather Victorian appearance, with mutton chop whiskers and beetling eyebrows.’
- ‘From this distance, about a hundred meters, he could make out beetled brows, and kerchiefs around noses and mouths.’
- ‘He glared forbiddingly, his eyebrows beetling together like two fuzzy caterpillars were mating on his forehead.’
- ‘Where the beetling cliff falls sheerly to the seething sea beneath,’
- ‘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.’
- ‘Alan proceeded to get up from the table without a word and stalk off, his shoulders hunched and his brow beetled.’
attributive (of a person's eyebrows) shaggy and projecting.‘thick beetle brows’
- ‘Beneath the beetle brow and the thinning combover, however, lurked a singular songwriting talent.’
- ‘He furrows his beetle brows and fixes his stare on the turf in front, indifferent to the periphery.’
- ‘He turned towards her; his eyes flashing under his beetling eyebrows.’
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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