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Person A uses the phrase "eager beaver" to mean an enthusiastic person. Person B chuckles. Basically my question boils down to who the weirdo is, so to speak:

  • A, because "eager beaver" is outdated and the sexual connotations are too strong to hope that one should understand the "normal" meaning

  • B, because "eager beaver" is a perfectly benign phrase with no sexual meanings whatsoever. Anyone who sees sexual connotations in this phrase is simply being immature.

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tee-hee. In-your-end-o. To teenage boys practically any word or phrase can have a sexual meaning to it. Or at least that's what SHE said. etc etc etc. "Eager beaver" is funny to teenage boys because "beaver" is a common slang for "vagina", hence why "eager beaver" is so unbearably hilarious. –  Matt May 13 '13 at 23:47
    
Beavers, by the way, are not only "enthusiastic" but they are industrious, hardworking, intelligent, adaptable, resourceful, and a whole lot more! They can do extensive property damage through their dam building and the subsequent flooding caused by their dams. They have also been known to attack humans. A man in Belarus was killed by a beaver recently. The animal severed an artery in the man's leg, and the man had bled to death by the time his friends got him to a medic. –  rhetorician May 14 '13 at 1:04
    
@Matt: I'd say that anyone who giggles at such a benign expression is off in another world... probably Uranus ;^) –  J.R. May 14 '13 at 2:57
    
For all the eagerness, have you looked for some definitions, usage notes anywhere? Where's the homework? –  Kris May 14 '13 at 8:59
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closed as not constructive by TimLymington, FumbleFingers, tchrist, MετάEd, Kris May 14 '13 at 9:00

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2 Answers

up vote 5 down vote accepted

There cannot be a definitive answer in these kind of usage question, but here's some elements for an answer that is neither your A or B:

  • It's still a rank in the scout organisation;
  • In Webster, there's no mention of a sexual tone (whereas it mentions the vulgar possible use of "beaver");
  • In the Urban dictionnary, only one out of six definitions contains a sexual reference for this idiom. Although it might makes some "grammarian" cringe, I found this later source useful for slang, vulgar neologisms and trendy, urban & edgy words or expressions. Anything I don't get in a pop a rap song I can usually found there. The fact that the Urban dictionnary is usually biased toward the dirtier option betwween possible meanings for a word seem to indicates, a contrario, that "eager beaver" still retains some innocence.

In short: It's still used without sexual innuendo but sometimes with one.

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In the UK, I've never heard this term used other than in a totally innocuous way.

Chambers gives this as the only meaning:

eager beaver noun, colloq someone who is exceptionally enthusiastic or willing

ODO also gives only a similar innocuous definition

So here, it either retains only its innocuous meaning and/or I'm not up-to-date with the youth culture (which is certainly true!).

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