know how many beans make five

know how many beans make five

BRITISH, OLD-FASHIONED
If someone knows how many beans make five, they are intelligent and sensible. Most parents want their children to be taught the basics, so they can talk nicely, spell properly and know how many beans make five. Note: This is a very old expression which is used by the Spanish writer Cervantes in his novel `Don Quixote' (1605). It may be based on a riddle.
See also: bean, five, how, know, make, many

know how many beans make five

be intelligent; have your wits about you. British informal
See also: bean, five, how, know, make, many