beat about the bush

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From medieval English hunting practices. Some men would whack bushes with sticks to scare birds out so that others could hunt them. Beating the bush directly could be dangerous.[1]


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

  1. Alternative form of beat around the bush
    • 1910 November, Jack London, Theft: A Play in Four Acts, New York, N.Y.: The Macmillan Company; London: Macmillan & Co., →OCLC, Act II, page 107:
      There is no use beating about the bush with a man like you. I know that. You are direct, and so am I. You know my position well enough to be assured that I am empowered to treat with you.
    • 2020 July 15, Mike Brown talks to Paul Clifton, “Leading London's "hidden heroes"”, in Rail, page 42:
      "Meanwhile, we are sitting here starving. Let's not beat about the bush - we are absolutely living hand to mouth now on TfL.