beat about the bush

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beat about the bush

To speak vaguely or euphemistically so as to avoid talking directly about an unpleasant or sensitive topic. Primarily heard in UK. Don't beat about the bush—just tell me the truth. Would you pleast stop beating about the bush? Are you leaving the company or not?
See also: beat, bush
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

beat about the bush

discuss a matter without coming to the point; be ineffectual and waste time.
This phrase is a metaphor which originated in the shooting or netting of birds; compare with beat the bushes below.
1992 Barry Unsworth Sacred Hunger I don't want to beat about the bush. Mr Adams is threatening to leave us.
See also: beat, bush
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

ˌbeat about the ˈbush

(British English) (American English ˌbeat around the ˈbush) take too long before saying what you want to say; avoid saying something directly: Don’t beat about the bush. Tell me exactly what you think is wrong with my work. OPPOSITE: call a spade a spade
See also: beat, bush
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

beat around/about the bush, to

Indirection in word or deed; to shilly-shally, to approach something in a roundabout way. This expression for overcautiousness dates from the early sixteenth century, when Robert Whytynton (Vulgaria, 1520) warned, “a longe betynge aboute the busshe and losse of time.” Some authorities think it came from beating the bushes for game, and indeed there are numerous sayings concerning the delays caused by too much beating and not enough bird-catching, dating back even further. (See also beat the bushes for.) Although the days of beaters seem remote, the phrase survives as a common cliché.
See also: around, beat, to
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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References in periodicals archive ?
So "beating about the bush" was the preamble to the main event, which was killing birds.
We should be able to tell people they're fat rather than beating about the bush by trying to be politically correct.
"The physical clash was provoked by Volen Siderov, there is no point in beating about the bush or lying," the anchor clarified Sunday." "I have never seen such a circus in this studio for the last twenty-one years," he said.
The Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) Bushblok project called "No Beating About The Bush" is on the final list of projects to win the 2009 BBC World Challenge.
Let's stop beating about the bush and listen to Christ's commission - "Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name Father, Son and Holy Spirit".
There's no point beating about the bush on that, terrible for Labour."
It is no good beating about the bush, we desperately need a left back and striker, because Steve Thompson's heart cannot be in it.
Greens in the EP disapprove vehemently and want to know why the Commission is beating about the bush: "It is hard to understand why the Commission is blocking a ban on marketing seal furs in the EU," observed Caroline Lucas (United Kingdom), who pointed out that the EP had made the same demand last year and that the member states were adopting more and more laws to that effect.