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hem and haw

To speak in an evasive, vague, roundabout way in order to avoid responding to a question or making a definite statement. The phrase comes from the common filler words often used by habit or when one is deciding what to say. How much longer do we have to hear this guy hem and haw? I wish they would get on with the debate.
See also: and, haw, hem

hum and haw

To speak in an evasive, vague, roundabout way in order to avoid responding to a question or making a definite statement. The phrase comes from the common filler words often used by habit or when one is deciding what to say. Primarily heard in UK. How much longer do we have to hear this guy hum and haw? I wish they would get on with the debate.
See also: and, haw, hum

hem and haw (around)

Inf. to be uncertain about something; to be evasive; to say "ah" and "eh" when speaking—avoiding saying something meaningful. Stop hemming and hawing around. I want an answer. Don't just hem and haw around. Speak up. We want to hear what you think.
See also: and, haw, hem

hem and haw

Be hesitant and indecisive; avoid committing oneself, as in When asked about their wedding date, she hemmed and hawed, or The President hemmed and hawed about new Cabinet appointments. This expression imitates the sounds of clearing one's throat. [Late 1700s]
See also: and, haw, hem

hem and haw

BRITISH, AMERICAN or

hum and haw

BRITISH
If you hem and haw or hum and haw, you take a long time to say something because you cannot think of the right words, or because you are not sure what to say. Tim hemmed and hawed, but finally told his boss the truth. My mother hummed and hawed at first, but eventually she sent her agreement. Note: People sometimes use hum and ha with the same meaning. Abu hummed and ha-ed a little.
See also: and, haw, hem

hum and haw (or ha)

hesitate; be indecisive. British
The word hum has been used as an inarticulate syllable in hesitant speech since Chaucer; ha appears in a similar role from the early 17th century.
See also: and, haw, hum

hem and haw

To be hesitant and indecisive; equivocate: "a leader who cannot make up his or her mind, never knows what to do, hems and haws" (Margaret Thatcher).
See also: and, haw, hem

hem and haw, to

To avoid giving a definite answer. This expression is imitative of the sounds made in clearing the throat or making a slight noise to attract attention, signify agreement, or express doubt. Its use to express indecision began in the early eighteenth century. Jonathan Swift’s poem “My Lady’s Lamentation” (1728) had one version: “He haws and he hums. At last out it comes.” Much later Bliss Carman defined it poetically: “Hem and Haw were the sons of sin, created to shally and shirk; Hem lay ’round and Haw looked on while God did all the work” (“Hem and Haw,” 1896).
See also: and, hem

hem and haw

To refuse to give a definite answer. “Hem,” similar in derivation to the interjection “ahem,” meant to hesitate. “Haw” meant much the same sense of being noncommittal. Combine the two, and you have someone who's stalling for time and hoping not to have to respond any further.
See also: and, haw, hem
References in periodicals archive ?
Lord Phillips, sitting with Mr Justice Griffith Williams, dismissed an appeal by the Director of Public Prosecutions against a district judge's decision that the conditions imposed on Mr Haw were so unclear as to be unworkable and were therefore in breach of his human right to protest.
Haw booked a stand at Food & Hotel Asia, a major event that connects global suppliers with Asias key food, beverage and horticulture buyers, and says he was the only veggie guy at the event.
Diese Vermittlungsrolle konnen HAW ubernehmen und in parlamentarischen Anhorungen die Umsetzung bestimmter Ma[sz]nahmen erortern und politische Handlungsempfehlungen aussprechen (zwei Beispiele: Deutscher Bundestag 2014, 2015).
While Haw will be returning to New York City after the exhibition, she has hopes that her Cambodia collection will also be shown at a gallery there.
An emotionally and visually engaging children's book, Wow Wow and Haw Haw breaks with expectations for fables and for Newfoundland children's literature, opening these categories to greater possibilities for what they can encompass.
"Hee Haw'' started as a summer replacement for "The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour'' in 1969 and ran on CBS until 1971 as a country version of the comedy series "Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In.'' When CBS dropped it, it went into syndication and ran through 1992.
Tennent's Paul Condron said: "Demand for something like Hee Haw has been there for some time - we expect that to increase now the legislative reform is in full effect."
Negotiating the challenging track superbly, Haw seized pole position by consistently posting lap times of two minutes and 39 seconds, more than three seconds quicker per lap than the rest of the micro series field.
Three weeks before the murder Haw was attacked at his home and had the top of his ear bitten off, the barrister said.
YOU might think Brian Haw, whose death was announced last week, had brokered world peace, such were the glowing tributes paid to this wily campaigner.
IN the weekend that the death of peace activist Brian Haw was announced, we are informed of the deaths, by a UN missile, of civilians, including children, in Tripoli.
IN RECENT weeks, we have lost two principled campaigners for peace and human rights, the actor Miriam Karlin and Brian Haw.
Summary: Veteran anti-war campaigner Brian Haw has died at the age of 62.
London The ten-year long Parliament Square Peace Campaigner Brian Haw has died of lung cancer at 62, his family announced yesterday.