Historically Speaking

Making sense of it all!

Beeline

Posted by Elyse Bruce on April 7, 2010

On August 23, 1894, the Chicago Daily Tribune carried a news article entitled “Barrier To Bad Men” that discussed the situation regarding anarchists in Europe.   In fact, it stated that there was concern as to what anarchists were up to and the article reported that “large numbers of [European] Anarchists are making a bee line for the United States.”

But that wasn’t the first published use of the word beeline.  Over 20 years before that news story, The Atlantic Monthly printed a story entitled “Quite So” by author T.B. Aldrich in their April 1872 issue.  In the story, Aldrich wrote:  “Curtis was a Boston boy, and his sense of locality was so strong that, during all his wanderings in Virginia, I do not believe there was a moment, day or night, when he could not have made a bee-line for Faneuil Hall.”

However, this, too, was not the first use of the word beeline.  By 1838, those living in America used the term to refer to someone who, like a bee, takes the shortest route back to the hive once it has found and collected nectar in the fields.  Like a bee that would use its keen and accurate homing instincts in the field to find its way back to the hive, someone who took the shortest route anywhere was said to have made a ‘beeline.’

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