Beetlejuice Question...

Hey guys, kind of dumb, but I haven’t posted to GQ in the longest time. And i haven’t posted cluttery, non-questions in the forum, so you’ll forgive me- right?

Now, in the movie Beetlejuice, whenever you see the the title character’s name written, it is always spelled “Betelgeuse”- or something like that. And I think that Adam and Barbara pronounce it differently at first. But the movie title itself is spelled almost phonetically. Is it that they thought the audience wouldn’t comprehend if it were titled “Betelgeuse”?

(Plus isn’t betelgeuse some sort of star? I think I remember reading that…)


Betelgeuse is indeed a star. It’s a first magnitude star in Orion. You should be able to see it outside right now. Unfortunately, I forget which one it is in Orion. Look for the two brightest ones in Orion and one of them will be Betelgeuse, the other will be Rigel.

Betelgeuse is the red one. Rigel is more bluish-white.

Betelgeuse is indeed a star (Alpha Orionis).

Adam pronounced it as something like “bay-tel-gice”, until Barbara corrected him. I’ve always thought that the title was a play on the bug-based diet of everyone’s favorite bio-exorcist. On reflection, I must agree that if the title had been spelled like the name, it would have drawn far more blank looks…and far fewer viewers.

I’m guessing it’s so the people who did not see the movie would not pronounce the name “Beetleguys,” like Adam and Barbara do at the start of the film.

Later on, the title character does use a beetle and a carton of orange juice to show Lydia what his name is (beetle+juice=Betelgeuse.)

Say it once, say it twice, third time’s the charm!
And remember:
I’ll eat anything you want me to eat
I’ll swallow anything you want me to swallow
So come on in-I’ll chew on a dog!

We’re forgetting something. Perhaps I’m thinking too deeply about this (I watched that movie about three hundred times over the course of one summer when I was at a very impressionable age)…BUT

Isn’t part of the reason his name is spelled differently than it is written the fact that saying his name three times (as it is listed in his ad) will bring him out, and this would be, in effect, tricking people into saying his name? In other words, simply by reading the ad out loud, he could be called unintentionally.

Also, it’s been years since I’ve seen the movie, but I’m pretty sure that Barbara has it wrong too. It’s not until their case worker (“Juneau?”) says the name that they learn how it is pronounced. And her reaction suggests that Betelgeuse…or whatever…is somewhat of a pariah. So it would be a no-no for him to trick folks into calling him with his ad…?

Anyway…that’s what I always thought. But I think you’re right about why the title was spelled Beetlejuice.

I went to this movie expecting an action thriller about Israeli commandos. Turns out the title wasn’t Battle Jews after all.

They were probably accounting for the basic ignorance of the public not knowing how to pronounce the name as spelled correctly.

The movie “The Madness of King George” (1994) was originally titled “The Madness of King George III”. The III was dropped for the American market when it was thought the audience might mistake it for a sequel!

I’m sure there were people out there that thought “Malcolm X” or “Apollo 13” were sequels. :rolleyes:

Where does the name “Beetelguese” come from? ISTR reading somewhere that he was from Middle Ages Christian mythology, and that he was a demon of some kind. That would explain why the dead are warend to avoid him…

Alas no as pointed out by Snopes. Read about it at

Sorry that this is a tangent, and that I’m new, and blah blah blah.

Sometime ago on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, Betelgeuse came up in a question regarding what sailors use to navigate in the southern hemisphere. Right answer was the Southern Cross; Betelguese, southern lights, and Carpenter’s Square were the distractors.

I’m assuming Carpenter’s Square is an actual celestial object, but I can’t find any information on it. Anyone know what it is?

The name Betelgeuse is a corruption of the Arabic “Ibt al jauza,” which means the “hand of al-jauza,” al-jauza the ancient Arabs’ “Central One,” a mysterious woman.

“The Madness of King George III–This time it’s personal!”

I’d heard that Betelgeuse came from the Arabic word for “sheep’s armpit”, as it was that part of a constellation of a sheep. Then again, that’s just what I heard from my seventh grade Earth Science teacher, which is pretty weak as far as cites go.

Some trivia, if I may from

  • Beetlejuice was originally going to be called The Maitlands, about a deceased couple dealing with the troubles of the afterlife. The scenes scripted much more morbidly than they appear (most notably the waiting room scenes, which were supposed to be really ghoulish), and most of the characters were much darker. Only when Michael Keaton began filming his scenes and asked for creative freedom did Tim Burton realize the potential of a dark comedy.
  • While filming, the studeo began to get on Tim Burton’s nerves so much that he threatenend to change the name to Scared Sheetless.

According to Enc. Brittanica, its name is derived from the Arabic word bat al-dshauzâ, which means “the giant’s shoulder.”

According to Merriam-Webster, it’s pronounced ‘bE-t&l-"jüs, (“beetlejuice”) and from Arabic bayt al-jawzA’ Gemini, literally, the house of the twins (confused with Orion & Betelgeuse)

You pays your money and you takes your choice.

It’s a piece of metal, shaped like an L, usually from eight inches to eighteen inches on each side. It’s used by carpenters to draw straight lines and right angles. For example, to draw a cut mark straight across a two-by-four, you lay the square across it, like this:

 b = board         X = square


You let the parallel leg of the square (the vertical XX’s above) angle down slightly below the plane of the board’s surface, and butt it up against the side of the board. You can now draw a straight line exactly at a ninety-degree angle across the board.

Obviously, it’s just the Millionaire question writers messing with the audience, tossing in a dumb distractor to confuse people. My guess is, referencing a carpenter’s square creates an association with tools in general, and specifically a sextant, thereby (they hope) throwing off one’s thought process.

Thanks for the detailed answer, Cervaise! I assumed that that all 4 answers on the show were apt to be names of something in the sky, but I’ll buy the idea that the writers were just offering a plausible, irrelevant name. Thus endeth this hijack.

Certain islanders chew betel nuts, which causes a orangish reddish coloration around the chin from the drool and wipings.

That seems to be more plausible–“betel juice.”

What, no mention of the extraterrestrial from Betelgeuse V?

Betelgeuse V? Would that be…Zaphod, or Ford? :slight_smile:

Yeah, I read this too, at the Internet Movie Database. Makes you wonder…they said that the waiting room scenes were going to be darker. Here I was thinking they already were pretty creepy- I wonder what Tim Burton really had in mind.

And yes, I too am glad he didn’t call it Scared Sheetless.