Beating around the bush

  • xebonyx

    Senior Member
    TR/AR/EN
    Let me also add that when one "beats around the bush", they're avoiding saying exactly what they feel or think to prevent possible upset or to evoke a certain response.
     

    cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    To beat around the bush is to avoid talking directly about a topic that causes discomfort.
    That discomfort may be felt by the speaker, or the speaker may avoid the topic to avoid
    causing discomfort to the listener.
     

    xebonyx

    Senior Member
    TR/AR/EN
    I don't think it strictly adheres to avoid causing discomfort.
    For example, someone has just received a promotion at their job. That person can't wait to tell their family or spouse about it, but they may beat around the bush to in order to get a greater degree of excitement from that person.
     

    notyouraveragematteo

    Senior Member
    English, Japanese
    So if I was askign somebody to tell me the truth and he was trying to change the topic, could I tell him : 'Stop beating around the bush! Tell me the truth.' ?
     

    parap

    Senior Member
    Mainly US English
    So if I was askign somebody to tell me the truth and he was trying to change the topic, could I tell him : 'Stop beating around the bush! Tell me the truth.' ?
    In my humble opinion, yes, you could.

    To talk about a politician, you can also use equivocate or prevaricate.
     

    Matching Mole

    Senior Member
    England, English
    I wouldn't say that beating around the bush was direct avoidance of a topic (e.g. changing the subject) but rather that it is approaching the topic indirectly in order to delay getting to the point, for example by discussing matters tangential to the main point, but not by talking about something altogether different.
     

    Dimcl

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    I wouldn't say that beating around the bush was direct avoidance of a topic (e.g. changing the subject) but rather that it is approaching the topic indirectly in order to delay getting to the point, for example by discussing matters tangential to the main point, but not by talking about something altogether different.
    A: "Did you go into my room and take money out of my wallet?"
    B: "Well, uh, I had to go buy groceries"
    A: "So, did you take money out of my wallet or not?"
    B: "You leave for work so early in the morning that we don't get a chance to talk. Why do you have to leave so darned early anyway? Why don't we ever just talk?"
    A: "WHAT ABOUT THE MONEY?"
    B: "See, the only time we ever talk is when you're yelling at me!"

    This is what I meant by changing the subject. It will only work for so long but it happens all the time.
     

    Madasa

    Senior Member
    English-UK
    All of the above is correct in my opinion.
    However, I thought I would just share the etymology of the idiom as I understand it.
    Apparently this is an idiom which originated in medieval times and its original meaning was "do not masturbate in the presence of women"
    That is what I learned. It might be wrong. But I thought you might be interested.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    All of the above is correct in my opinion.
    However, I thought I would just share the etymology of the idiom as I understand it.
    Apparently this is an idiom which originated in medieval times and its original meaning was "do not masturbate in the presence of women"
    That is what I learned. It might be wrong. But I thought you might be interested.
    Please tell us how you can support this suggestion.
    Otherwise, it is idle speculation.
     

    Madasa

    Senior Member
    English-UK
    Well this is the problem, I have just been scouring the net to find back up but can only find something in the urban dictionary. Annoyingly I can't actually remember where I learned it. I think it was on radio 4!
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Without another source to substantiate, I would ignore Urban Dictionary. This expression is not modern, it has been around for centuries, and its origin has long since been established as a hunting metaphor.
     

    Madasa

    Senior Member
    English-UK
    Well I understood that it wasn't modern, I understood it to be from medieval times. The source, I'm pretty sure, was radio 4 sometime this year. But admittedly it seems to have been a hunting metaphor which would make more sense.
     
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