hem and haw


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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

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

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 ?
How many of us have done exactly what Hem and Haw did--moved closer to the Cheese--built a life around the Cheese--become so entrenched in the routine and the comfort -- that we just stop noticing anything?
We can act like the two littlepeople--and hem and haw about the need to change--or we can act like the two mice and "sniff out" our environment, always being prepared for change.
"Don't hem and haw; a polished presentation and how you handle yourself in front of investors makes a big difference," he stresses.
Based on official word from the DOTr, they continue to hem and haw, and haw and hem, on what exactly the 16-month-old Duterte Harley administration wants to do to boost air travel in this country.
Hem and Haw, in contrast, are in the blissful state of believing that their 'cheese' will be there forever, and are thus completely unprepared for a situation when the cheese disappears.
Her hem and haws and squeaks can't help but be endearing, but she appears so unconvinced by the majority of her lines that the trickier bits (like the blithe acknowledgment of her late-in-life sexuality) come off as implausible.