What does the idiom "Beat around the bush" mean?

The phrase Beat around the bush is often used in English, but what does this idiom mean? When idioms are used in the right situations, they strengthen communication and enrich the language. You can communicate more effectively by learning the meaning of Beat around the bush.

Meaning of "Beat around the bush"


‘Beat around the bush’ is a popular English idiom which means to avoid talking directly about a topic or situation by moving away from the subject or speaking in a vague manner. It is also used when someone is failing to explain something clearly.


The phrase ‘beat around the bush’ originates from the 15th Century proverb ‘to beat about the bush’ which was used to describe the practice of hunting birds by moving branches and foliage around a shrub to flush birds out in the open. This proverb was later adapted to describe how humans can avoid talking about an uncomfortable topic by evading conversation and not being direct.


The ‘beat around the bush’ idiom is used as a criticism when someone does not give a direct or straightforward explanation. It is used to accuse someone of being vague and not saying what they really mean or want to say. It can also be used to describe a situation when someone is hesitating to talk about something due to its sensitivity or because they do not want the other person to react negatively.

Example Sentences

  • He kept beating around the bush and never answered my question.
  • His boss was getting frustrated as he kept beating around the bush.
  • Stop beating around the bush and tell me what happened.
  • She kept beating around the bush and I never got a proper answer.

The meanings of the words in the "Beat around the bush" idiom

The power of idioms transcends languages!

"Putting the cart before the horse" is an English idiom that means doing things in the wrong order. In Russian, the similar idiom is "Кладёт колесо впереди лошади," which translates to "Putting the cart before the horse." This idiom emphasizes the idea that doing things in the wrong order can lead to confusion and problems down the line.


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