What's the origin of the phrase "NONE OF YOUR BEESWAX"?
To be honest, I thought my mother invented this phrase, along with, "Well? That’s a deep subject!", "So what? Buttons!" and the ultimate Jewish mother gambit, "No, you do what you want…I’ll just stay here and die."
I was misinformed, however (except maybe that last one.) Eric Partridge’s 1977 Dictionary of Catch Phrases, British and American, from the sixteenth century to the present day, set me straight.
It seems that none of your beeswax, meaning none of your business, was originally a line spoken by the character Nanette in the musical No, No, Nanette (Youmans, Harbuch and Mandel, 1925). This catchphrase enjoyed a brief vogue in the later 1920’s. It is cited as children’s slang in a couple of later references mentioned by Partridge. There are no suprises as to its origin; beeswax is simply an obvious pun on the word business.
And just in case anyone is wondering, the word pun comes from the 17th century obsolete French term pundigrion, meaning a fanciful formation.