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slang for property, money, is the French biens, goods. “A bean” = a guinea, is in Grose.

“Like a beane [alms-money] in a monkeshood.”—Cotgrave.

Beans. Pythagʹoras forbade the use of beans to his disciples—not the use of beans as a food, but the use of beans for political elections. Magistrates and other public officers were elected by beans cast by the voters into a helmet, and what Pythagʹoras advised was that his disciples should not interfere with politics or “love beans”—i.e. office.

Aristotle says the word bean means venʹery, and that the prohibition to “abstain from beans” was equivalent to “keeping the body chaste.”

⁂ The French have the proverb, “If he gives me peas I will give him beans,” Sʹil me donne des pois, je lui donnerai des fèves, i.e. I will give him tit for tat, a Rowland for an Oliver.

Beans are in flower, les fèvres fleurissent, and this will account for your being so silly. Our forefathers imagined that the perfume of the flowering bean was bad for the head, and made men silly or light-headed.

He knows how many beans go to make up five. He is “up to snuff;” he is no fool; he is not to be imposed upon. The reference is to the ancient custom of moving beans in counting.


“I was a fool, I was, and didnʹt know how many beans make five [that is, how many beans must be moved to make up five].”—Farjeon.

“Few men better knew how many blue beans it takes to make five.”—Galt.

Blue Beans: “Three blue beans in a blue bladder.” A rattle for children.

F. Hark! does it rattle?

S. Yes, like three blue beans in a blue bladder.”

Old Fortunatus (Ancient Dramas), iii. p. 128.

⁂ “Blue beans” are bullets or shot. Three small bullets or large shot in a bladder would make a very good rattle for a child. (See Blue Beans.)

Full of beans. Said of a fresh and spirited horse.

To get beans. To incur reproof.

Iʹll give him beans. A licking; a jolly good hiding. A very common phrase. Probably from the French referred to above, meaning as good as I got; “beans for his peas.”

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Entry taken from Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, edited by the Rev. E. Cobham Brewer, LL.D. and revised in 1895.

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Bead (Anglo-Saxon, bed, a prayer)
Beadsman or Bedesman
Beam (of a stag)
Bean Feast
Bean Goose (The)
Bean-king (The)
Bear (A)
Bear (The)
Bear (To)
Bear of Bradwardine (The)
Bear Account (A)
Bear Garden

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Blue Beans