beat around the bush

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beat around the bush

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

beat around the bush

 and beat about the bush
Fig. to avoid answering a question; to stall; to waste time. Stop beating around the bush and answer my question. Let's stop beating about the bush and discuss this matter.
See also: around, beat, bush
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

beat around the bush

Also, beat about the bush. Approach indirectly, in a roundabout way, or too cautiously. For example, Stop beating around the bush-get to the point. This term, first recorded in 1572, originally may have alluded to beating the bushes for game.
See also: around, beat, bush
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

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

beat around the bush

To speak evasively or misleadingly, or to stall or waste time. To flush pheasants and other birds so they could be shot, British gamekeepers hired beaters who would swing sticks at likely places where the birds might be lurking. Not to go directly to such foliage but to work around it instead gave the impression of wasting time or not trying very hard to raise the birds; hence, beating around the bush.
See also: around, beat, bush
Endangered Phrases by Steven D. Price Copyright © 2011 by Steven D. Price
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References in periodicals archive ?
The worst international performance I have ever seen Big John Toshack beats around the bush after Wales lose to Cyprus The manager must have got out of bed, felt like Muhammad Ali and decided to get us all doing it.
Job listens: the Lord God beats around the bush, for the Lord God wishes to beat around the bush.