tumbleweed moment



From the motif in western movies where the wind blows tumbleweeds through the scene, usually to establish that the place is desolate or empty.


tumbleweed moment (plural tumbleweed moments)

  1. (Britain, figuratively, broadcasting) A period of stony, unresponsive silence.
    • 2004 July 14, Laura Davis, “Arts Diary: STAGE QUIZ”, in Daily Post[1], Liverpool, England:
      …real life television news quizzes have the benefit of careful editing to remove the tumbleweed moments.
    • 2005 April 1, Trevor Wright, How to Be a Brilliant English Teacher, Routledge, →ISBN, page 78:
      When you’re wondering if they might just sit there self-consciously not saying anything (a tumbleweed moment) you need to get away from the centre-front, start moving around.
    • 2005 December 19, Robert Stansfield, “Gimp ad to shame litter louts”, in The Mirror, London, England:
      Peter Gibson, of Keep Britain Tidy, said: “in a world of daft pranks, we want littering to be that tumbleweed moment, the joke that falls flat on its face.”
    Synonym: dead air

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