stands for 300. Scit B. trecentum sibi cognatum retinère. And, again, Et B. trecentum per se retinere videtur. But with a
line above, it denotes 3,000.
For Becarre and Bemol (French for B sharp and B flat), see
Marked with a B
(French), i.e. a poor thing. In the French language almost
all personal defects begin with the letter B; e.g. bigle
(squint-eyed), borgne (one-eyed), bossu (humpty),
boiteux (lame), etc.
Not to know B from a battledoor.
To be quite illiterate, not to know even his letters. Miege tells
us that hornbooks used to be called battledoors. The phrase
might therefore originally mean not to know the B of, from, or out of,
your hornbook. But its more general meaning is “not able to distinguish
one letter from another.”
“He knoweth not a B from a battledoore.” —Howell; English
“Distinguish a B from a battledore.” —Dekker: Guls Hornebook.
I know B from a Bull's foot.
Similar to the proverb, “I know a hawk from a hernshaw.” (See
Hawk.) The bull's parted hoof somewhat resembles a B.
“There were members who scarcely knew B from a bull's foot.” —
Brackenbridge: Modern Chivalry.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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