There are some people who take a long time to actually say what they mean. Have you had to talk to someone like this before? They might simply be someone who needs extra time to get to the point or might be someone who doesn’t want to talk about the real problem. We can say that the person is beating around the bush. This English idiom is commonly used in regular conversation. If you want to learn more about the meaning and origin of “beat around the bush,” continue reading!
Beat Around the Bush Meaning
Not knowing the exact meaning of an idiom can get you really confused, especially if you are not a native English speaker. A great way to learn an English idiom is to understand the origin, which is usually closely related to the meaning as well. Before getting into the origin and the exact meaning, let’s break down the expression “beat around the bush” a little bit.
What is a bush?
A bush is a large plant smaller than a tree and larger than plain grass. It has a lot of bushes, which is what makes it quite big. Sometimes bushes are big enough for someone to hide behind!
Meaning of Beat Around the Bush
To beat around the bush is to avoid talking about something important or not getting to the main point directly. Not all people do this intentionally; some might just be bad communicators. Others do this on purpose to avoid talking about a difficult topic.
For example, you might beat around the bush before telling your parents that you failed a test. You’re too afraid to talk directly about the problem, right?
Origin of Beat Around the Bush
This expression was used since the early 1400s. Rich men would go hunting for birds with people they hired. These hired people would beat near the bushes to scare the birds so that the rich men could shoot them.
Why beat “around” or near the bushes? Good questions! If they hit the bushes directly, there is the possibility of hitting a bee’s nest which can be very dangerous! Beating around the bushes was good enough to scare the birds, so that is why.
In recent days, people don’t use sticks to beat around the bush and scare birds out of it. People often take trained dogs when they go hunting to scare birds out.
Beating Around the Bush Examples
Here are some example sentences using beat around the bush:
- If you have something to tell me, just say it. Don’t beat around the bush.
- When I asked Jake about his test results, he started beating around the bush.
- Mr. Kim hates when others beat around the bush. Just get to the point when you have a conversation with him.
Other English Idioms
Learn more English idioms and commonly used expressions to build your vocabulary and conversation skills:
- English Idiom: Back to Square One
- English Idiom: Bee in Your Bonnet
- English Idiom: Crack the Whip
- English Idiom: Blow Off Some Steam
FAQs About Beat Around the Bush
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about the idiom, “beat around the bush.”
Is it correct to say beating around the bush?
Beating around the bush is correct. It is the present participle form of ‘beat around the bush.’ For example, you can use it in a sentence like this: Stop beating around the bush and get to the point!
What is a synonym for beat around the bush?
Here are some synonyms for beat around the bush:
- avoid talking about something
- being long-winded
- go around the houses
Why do British people beat around the bush?
It is a process of hunting birds. The gamekeepers, people who are hired by rich men, used to beat the edges around the bush to scare out the birds. The scared birds fly into the air and make it easier for the hunters to shoot them.
Beat Around the Bush: Join the Conversation
What are your thoughts on this English idiom? Have you ever heard someone saying this before? Now you know what it means, so you can use it too! Try making a sentence using this expression. That way, you will more easily remember this new expression, beat around the bush!
If there is another English expression you want to learn, let us know in the comments. We’d love to hear from you.