beat around the bush

beat around the bush
also, beat about the bush


  • avoid talking about the main topic
  • not speaking directly or precisely
  • avoid the important point
  • approach indirectly
  • in a roundabout way, or too cautiously
  • speak in a roundabout, indirect or misleading way

Example Sentences

  1. Will you please stop beating about the bush and get to the point?
  2. When I asked George whether he knew who had taken the files from my desk, he started beating around the bush and refused to give me a direct answer.
  3. Don’t beat around the bush and tell me frankly what you think of my proposition.
  4. I know this discussion is an uncomfortable one, but instead of beating about the bush, let’s come to the point and get over with it.
  5. Quit beating around the bush and tell me what you really want.
  6. You will have to learn to speak clearly about what you want. You won’t get anywhere if you keep beating around the bush.
  7. Why can’t you get straight to the point instead of beating around the bush?


The origin of this phrase lies in medieval hunting. During bird hunts, some participants would rouse the birds by beating the bushes so that the others could hunt them. The phrase is a very old and the first written reference is from a medieval poem “Generydes – A Romance in Seven-line Stanzas” in 1440, which mentions “beat the bush”. The earliest version which has “about” in it is found in “Works” by George Gascoigne in 1572. The UK version of the phrase is “beat about the bush”, while the American version is “beat around the bush” and is newer and more popular today.

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