tumbleweed

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English[edit]

a tumbleweed, Salsola sp.

Etymology[edit]

tumble +‎ weed

Pronunciation[edit]

Noun[edit]

tumbleweed (countable and uncountable, plural tumbleweeds)

  1. Any plant which habitually breaks away from its roots in the autumn, and is driven by the wind, as a light, rolling mass, over the fields and prairies; as witch grass, wild indigo, Amaranthus albus, etc.
  2. (attributive) Describing unwanted silence and inactivity. Often used of a situation when one makes a statement that is ignored or ill-received by one's audience, as the resultant silence is likened to that of a desolate desert with rolling tumbleweeds.
    • 2000 January 21, “Plsntgrn”, in alt.music.progressive[1]:
      Putting an ad in the local paper that Spock's Beard and Arena are in town will get you a tumbleweed response and some wasted revenue.
    • 2005, Trevor Wright, How to Be a Brilliant English Teacher[2], →ISBN, page 68:
      “Why do families argue?” may only induce the tumbleweed response. (Could you answer that question out of the blue?)

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