tumbleweed moment

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English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

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

Noun[edit]

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

Coordinate terms[edit]