beat around the bush

English edit

Alternative forms edit

Etymology edit

From the older form beat about the bush, replacing the preposition.

Pronunciation edit

Verb edit

beat around the bush (third-person singular simple present beats around the bush, present participle beating around the bush, simple past and past participle beaten around the bush)

  1. (idiomatic) To treat a topic, but omit its main points, often intentionally.
  2. (idiomatic) To delay or avoid talking about something difficult or unpleasant.
    Synonyms: go around the houses, prevaricate, pussyfoot, ramble, tergiversate, waffle
    Antonyms: cut to the chase, get on with it, get to the point
    Just stop beating around the bush and tell me what the problem is!
    • 1870, Horatio Alger, Rufus and Rose[1]:
      "Look here," said Smith, menacingly, "if you think I cheated you, you might as well say so right out. I don't like beating around the bush."

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