tumbleweed moment

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From the motif in westerns 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 dead air or stony, unresponsive silence.
    • 2004, July the 14th: Laura Davis, “Arts Diary: STAGE QUIZ”, Daily Post (Liverpool, England) [1]:
      …real life television news quizzes have the benefit of careful editing to remove the tumbleweed moments.
    • 2005, April the 1st: Trevor Wright, How to Be a Brilliant English Teacher, page 78 (Routledge; ISBN 041533246X (10), ISBN 978-0415332460 (13)):
      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 the 19th: Robert Stansfield, “Gimp ad to shame litter louts”, 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.”

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