beetle

Definitions

General English

  • noun an insect with hard covers that protects its folded wings

Cars & Driving

  • noun
    (written as Beetle)
    the original rear-engined Volkswagen

Construction

  • A heavy mallet with a large wooden head used for driving pegs or wedges or in other applications where material might sustain damage if struck with a conventional sledgehammer. See also maul.

Slang

  • verb to hurry. A dated colloquialism revived by Sloane Rangers in the early 1980s. It is inspired of course by the scuttling of the insects.

Origin & History of “beetle”

English has three separate words beetle. The commonest, beetle the insect, comes from Old English bitula, which was a derivative of the verb bītan ‘bite’: beetle hence means etymologically ‘the biter’. Beetle ‘hammer’, now largely restricted to various technical contexts, is also Old English: the earliest English form, bētel, goes back to a prehistoric Germanic *bautilaz, a derivative of the verb *bautan, from which English gets beat (the cognate Old Norse beytill meant ‘penis’). The adjective beetle (14th c.), as in ‘beetle brows’, and its related verb are of unknown origin, although it has been speculated that there is some connection with the tufted antennae of certain species of beetle, which may suggest eyebrows.
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