hem + and + haw
hem and haw (third-person singular simple present hems and haws, present participle hemming and hawing, simple past and past participle hemmed and hawed)
- (idiomatic, US) To discuss, deliberate, or contemplate rather than taking action or making up one's mind.
- If you hem and haw long enough, someone else will do it first.
- To mumble and procrastinate in one's speech, especially with a reply to a hard question or with voicing a decision on a topical matter; to evade a question, giving vague answers; to equivocate or temporize.
- 1903, The People of the Abyss, by Jack London, Chapter 1
- The man at the Chief Office hemmed and hawed. 'We make it a rule,' he explained, 'to give no information concerning our clients.' 'But in this case,' I urged, 'it is the client who requests you to give the information concerning himself.' Again he hemmed and hawed.
to contemplate rather than taking action