Reference > Brewer’s Dictionary > B

 B.B. C. 
CONTENTS · BIBLIOGRAPHIC RECORD
E. Cobham Brewer 1810–1897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
 
B
 
stands for 300. Scit B. trecentum sibi cogntum retinre. And, again, Et B. trecentum per se retinere videtur. But with a line above, it denotes 3,000.   1
        For Becarre and Bemol (French for B sharp and B flat), see BECARRE.
   Marked with a B (French), i.e. a poor thing. In the French language almost all personal defects begin with the letter B; e.g. bigle (squint-eyed), borgne (one-eyed), bossu (humpty), boiteux (lame), etc.   2
   Not to know B from a battledoor. To be quite illiterate, not to know even his letters. Miege tells us that hornbooks used to be called battledoors. The phrase might therefore originally mean not to know the B of, from, or out of, your hornbook. But its more general meaning is “not able to distinguish one letter from another.”   3
        “He knoweth not a B from a battledoore.”—Howell; English Proverbs.
        “Distinguish a B from a battledore.”—Dekker: Guls Hornebook.
   I know B from a Bull’s foot. Similar to the proverb, “I know a hawk from a hernshaw.” (See HAWK.) The bull’s parted hoof somewhat resembles a B.   4
        “There were members who scarcely knew B from a bull’s foot.”—Brackenbridge: Modern Chivalry.
 


 B.B. C. 

 
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