Every bean has its black. Nemo sine vitiis nascitur, “everyone
has his faults.” The bean has a black eye. (Ogni grano ha la sua
He has found the bean in the cake,
he has got a prize in the lottery, has come to some unexpected good
fortune. The allusion is to twelfth cakes in which a bean is buried.
When the cake is cut up and distributed, he who gets the bean is the
slang for property, money, is the French biens, goods.
A bean' = a guinea, is in Grose.
Like a beane [alms-money] in a monkeshood.
(See Barristers' Gowns.)
Pythagoras 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 Pythagoras advised was that his
disciples should not interfere with politics or “love beans” —i.e.
Aristotle says the word bean means venery, 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,” S'il 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
“I was a fool, I was, and didn't 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
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
Full of beans.
Said of a fresh and spirited horse. To get beans.
I'll 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.”
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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