Beatle - beetle

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Do not confuse the two homophones Beatle and beetle.

  • A beetle is an insect, one of an enormous number of species in the order coleoptera.
    • (There is also a type of heavy hammer, rammer or pounder known as a beetle. Neither the word nor the thing is common nowadays.)
    • There are also three verbs 'to beetle':
      • One is 'to overhang'. A seaside cliff may 'beetle over the shore'. This is the origin of the adjective beetle-browed, meaning 'having over-hanging eyebrows'. The great entomologist Charles Darwin could in later life have been appropriately described as 'beetle-browed', as could Rudyard Kipling, whose schoolboy nickname was Beetle.
      • The second is 'to move in an undignified manner', 'to move aimlessly, like the insect'. (This was first used of aeroplanes, around the time of the first world war. Airmen, like later generations of school children. used 'to beetle off', or away from scenes of unpleasantness or threat.)
      • The third verb is 'to strike with a beetle [the hammer, or rammer]'. This word is now obsolete.
  • While there are many species of beetle, and millions of individuals, there were only four Beatles.
    • They formed a musical group. The name was chosen because they played music with an insistent beat, as well as being a reference to Buddy Holly's band, also called after insects: the Crickets. The four Beatles were John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr (as well as one or two earlier members, such as Pete Best and Stuart Sutcliffe).