As Cute as a Bug’s Ear

Meaning of “As Cute as a Bug’s Ear”

The phrase ‘as cute as a bug’s ear’ or ‘cute as a bug’s ear’ means a small child or a person is very cute or beautiful. This phrase is mostly used for toddlers and babies. In other words, the phrase means ‘very cute’. However, it is fascinating to note that bugs don’t have ears. In spite of that, the phrase is similar to cute as a button, cute as a weasel, etc. The phrase is widely used in the UK than in the US.

Origin of “As Cute as a Bug’s Ear”

It is stated that the phrase has originated in the United States during the 19th century. However, it seems from its etymological investigation that it has been derived from “acute” used in the sense of “cute” as shrewd or quick-witted by Nathan Bailey in his dictionary of etymology in 1731. In its present meanings, however, it has been used by a local newspaper, the Charleston Sunday News, in its publication of June 1891 as “Imogene McGinty is as cute as a bug’s ear.” Since then, it has become a norm to refer to people with this phrase.

Examples in Literature

Example #1

Cute as A Bug by Lyle Lovett

She’s as cute as a bug, short as a minute
She’s a pretty little package with everything in it
Mister, I’ve said enough to praise God above
I’m crazy in love, she’s as cute as a bug

Cute as a bug, short as a minute
She’s a pretty little package with everything in it
Mister, I’ve said enough to praise God above
I’m crazy in love, she’s as cute as a bug
She’s as cute as a bug, short as a minute
She’s a pretty little package with everything in it
Mister, I’ve said enough to praise God above
I’m crazy in love

She’s as cute as a bug, short as a minute
She’s a pretty little package with everything in it
Mister, I’ve said enough to praise God above
I’m crazy in love, she’s as cute as a bug

This lyric “Cute as a Bug” has been sung by Lyle Lovett. She writes it from a male point of view where a speaker asserts his love for his beloved, praising her for her beauty and cuteness. The refrain of “I’m crazy in love” and “as cute as a bug” has been repeated in all the four lines. The phrase has been used with a little twist, which seems a result of the natural evolution of linguistic items. It seems that now the “bug’s ear” has been replaced with the “bug” itself.

Example #2

Slang Poetry, Volume I by R.K. Cowles

 “The greasball got all the salad that was reportedly
Was 25 Gs
While there, he flies a kite, the kit for him was satch
Once I got inside I noticed they were doing a punk-drunk
Jolly up
The group looked beat all as they hoofed it
Then this blimp jump salty, because another fella was
Bill and coo with his ginchy duchess
Then I accidently bumped into his hotcha
As we begin to smoke each other
I was smoking for her sister that was a cute as a bug’s
I looked around for my platinum blonde twist, what a chisses
She has”

These lines have been taken from the poem “Slang Poetry” of the volume-1 of R. K. Cowles. The poet wants to tell that he is using vulgar incidents to show such type of poetry. While most of the verses show absurd point such as flirting with his friend’s sister. The poet has used this phrase ‘cute as a bug’s to describe the cuteness of the girl he likes.

Example #3

From Sugar Creek Gang Series, Books 1-36, by Paul Hutchens

The baby bear we made was as cute as a bug’s ear and looked more like a bear than his mother did. We were quite proud of ourselves and kept wishing Barry and Mr. Wimbish would hurry up.

“He’s as pretty as a picture,” Little Jim exclaimed, pride on his small face because he was the one who had thougth of making the baby bear in the first place. He started to stroke the snowy top of the baby bear’s skull.

This paragraph has been taken from Sugar Creek Gang Series, a collection of adventures of the Christian boys. Here they come to a point where they see a baby bear. The boys state that they see the baby bear as a very cute creature by using the phrase as cute as a bug’s ear.

Example #4

Beth McCord’s Memoirs by Alan McCord

“Although I knew that corporal punishment was “given” in the schools of that era, I had never had a front row box seat to a performance of that kind. In our class was a little boy Jackie, a nvervious little guy who was intelligetn and as cuge as a bug’s ear. He and his older brother were foster childrne and live on a farm a few miles outside our town. Jackie’s behavior, however, did not meet Mss Armand’s standard and althogh I’m sure he was hyper and distruptive, I absolutely do not remembrer the actual times he misbehaved.”

This paragraph has been taken from the memoir of Beth McCord in which she has described her childhood education. She is of the view that though corporal punishment was a norm at that time, she used to meet a cute boy, Jackie, for which she has used the phrase in its exact wording. This means cuteness and attractiveness of the boy.

Examples in Sentences

Example #1: “Did you see Anna’s daughter? She is as cute as a bug’s ear.”

Example #2: “While the polar bear cubs look as cute as a bug’s ear, they adults are apex predators. They are dangerous even if they don’t look cute.”

Example #3: “I don’t want to buy into her looks of cute as a bug’s ear. To be me she is a Bond villain.”

Example #4: “All babies are cute – just so cute as a bug’s ear, but when they cry, I am not going near them.”

Example #5: “My grandma still tells me I am as cute as a bug’s ear. I had to show a picture that bugs don’t have ears.”