The B words are the best

In many languages, the words beginning with B seem to go to onomatopoeic extremes: they cover everything that’s good and bad about humanity. In English, for example, on the negative side, there are words such as bad, brutal, barbaric, beastly, behead, bibulous, banal, bitchy, brute, betray, belch and burp. On the good side, though, there is beauty, bliss, benefactors, birthdays, benefits, barbecues and blessings, not to mention bars, bacchanalia, babefests, breasts, boobs, blonds, bosom buddies, beer and beefcakes. And in the Romance languages the same positive vibes apply: think of words such as beau, bon, bonjour, bon vivant, belle, beleza, bom, bueno, buono, bene, bine, buna… Plus, of course, there is Bernardo (me!) a bright n’ breezy bastion of benevolence, bonhomie, brawn and brains and (bygone) beauty. What more can I say?

Here are some breezy Bs:

FRENCH: une bergeronnettenoun feminine, a wagtail. OK, you are never likely to need this word unless you are a bird watcher, but it has a nice ring to it. Betty and the Bergeronnettes would be a great name for a pop group.

ITALIAN: uno bastoncinonoun masculine, a small stick or rod or ski pole; bastoncini de pesce, fish fingers.

PORTUGUESE: bisbilhotarverb, 1) to scheme, complicate, intrigue; 2) to chatter, gossip; 3) to whisper; 4) to examine, investigate, inquire into. um bisbilhoteiro, uma bisbilhoteiranoun masculine, feminine, an intriguer, tell-tale, gossiper, meddler.

ROMANIAN: băgăcios, băgăcioasăadjective, masculine, feminine, intrusive, interfering, (self-) assertive; a băgaverb, to shove, dig, jab, tuck, put; a se băgaverb, reflexive, to get involved in, to impose oneself on.

SPANISH: un barrabásnoun masculine, a scoundrel; una barrabasadanoun feminine, a dirty trick.


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