E. Cobham Brewer 18101897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
stands for 300. Scit B. trecentum sibi cogntum retinre. And, again, Et B. trecentum per se retinere videtur. But with a line above, it denotes 3,000.
For Becarre and Bemol (French for B sharp and B flat), see BECARRE.
Marked with a B (French), i.e. a poor thing. In the French language almost all personal defects begin with the letter B; e.g. bigle (squint-eyed), borgne (one-eyed), bossu (humpty), boiteux (lame), etc.
Not to know B from a battledoor. To be quite illiterate, not to know even his letters. Miege tells us that hornbooks used to be called battledoors. The phrase might therefore originally mean not to know the B of, from, or out of, your hornbook. But its more general meaning is not able to distinguish one letter from another.
He knoweth not a B from a battledoore.Howell; English Proverbs.
Distinguish a B from a battledore.Dekker: Guls Hornebook.
I know B from a Bulls foot. Similar to the proverb, I know a hawk from a hernshaw. (See HAWK.) The bulls parted hoof somewhat resembles a B.
There were members who scarcely knew B from a bulls foot.Brackenbridge: Modern Chivalry.