Home VocabularyQuirky vocab The B words are the best

The B words are the best

by Bernard O'Shea

In many languages, the words beginning with B have an exciting buzz about them. In English, for example, we can have a ball, celebrate birthdays, earn big bucks, have blockbuster success, bonanzas, bonuses, blank cheques, benefactors and friends with benefits. We can be admired for our brilliance and bedazzle people with our breathtaking beauty. We can have bohemian lifestyles and bacchanalian parties, go bonkers, have a blast and go out with a bang.

Want to take a break? On holidays we book bed and breakfasts or boutique hotels, preferably by the beach. On weekends we round up our buddies and do brunch, or sink a few bevvies in bars or around barbecues. It’s bliss!

The B words are sexy, beguiling. While A is for anatomy (yawn), B is for the birds and the bees, breasts, boobs, bazookas, badonkadonks, babefests, booties, buns, bubble butts, bollocks, big bobby danglers, beefcakes with biceps, bonking and bam-bam in the ham.

A woman and a man both wearing pink bikini tops while marching on parade

B is also for, um, bosom buddies.

While we’re counting our blessings, don’t forget there’s Bernardo (me!), a bright n’ breezy bastion of benevolence, brilliance, brawn, brains and (bygone) beauty.

B is also for 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!”

B words 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, bien, bine, buna… But those are common words: for the quirky vocab section, we need something more exotic, unusual. Here’s what I found while browsing the B pages of my five big Romance 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 (masculine), uma bisbilhoteira (feminine), an intriguer, tell-tale, gossiper, meddler.

A talkative sheep bleating to another attentive sheep in a field

Did you hear what the bisbilhoteiro got up to last night? – No, tell me!

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.

Of course, not every B word is loaded with bonhomie. People can be boring, banal, boorish, bitchy, bigoted boofheads.  Some are bad to the bone – brutal, barbaric, beastly; they bully, berate, behead and betray. We can go ballistic and have bloody battles. Spare a thought for the brokenhearted.

But if we must end on a bad note, let it be this one: apparently bad girls and bad boys have more fun. M5R


Next up: the C words. Be curious, click on the link!

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