The B words are the best

by Bernard O'Shea

In many languages, the words beginning with B seem to go to onomatopoeic extremes: they cover everything that’s good and bad about humanity. In English, for example, on the negative side, there are words such as bad, brutal, barbaric, beastly, behead, bibulous, banal, bitchy, brute, betray, belch and burp. On the good side, though, there is beauty, bliss, benefactors, birthdays, benefits, barbecues and blessings, not to mention bars, bacchanalia, babefests, breasts, boobs, blonds and beefcakes.

Plus, of course, there is Bernardo (me!) a bright n’ breezy bastion of benevolence, bonhomie, brawn and brains and (bygone) beauty.

And let’s not forget beer! Undoubtedly, the best beer is Bernard, brewed in the Czech Republic. As one bedazzled beer reviewer bellowed, “No beer has better body than Bernard!”

In the Romance languages the same positive vibes apply: think of words such as beau, bon, bonjour, bon vivant, belle, beleza, bom, bueno, buono, bene, bine, buna

For the quirky vocab section, though, I like to look for unusual words that have a pleasant buzz about them. Here’s what I found in the B pages of my dictionaries.

FRENCH: une bergeronnette,  a wagtail. Okay, I know you are never likely to need this word unless you are a bird watcher, but it has a nice ring to it. Betty and the Bergeronnettes would make a great name for a pop group.

ITALIAN: uno bastoncino, a small stick or rod or ski pole; bastoncini de pesce are fish fingers.

PORTUGUESE: bisbilhotar, 1) to scheme, complicate, intrigue; 2) to chatter, gossip; 3) to whisper; 4) to examine, investigate, inquire into. um bisbilhoteiro, uma bisbilhoteira, an intriguer, tell-tale, gossiper, meddler.

ROMANIAN: băgăcios, băgăcioasă, intrusive, interfering, (self-) assertive; a băga, to shove, dig, jab, tuck, put; a se băga, to get involved in, to impose oneself on.

SPANISH: un barrabás, a scoundrel; una barrabasada, a dirty trick.

B is also for bloke in bikini

B is also for, um, bosom buddies.

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