Have you ever felt that someone is not giving you a clear or direct answer to your question?
Maybe you asked a love interest if they love you too, and their response is vague, general, explaining they really like you, and want to continue exploring the relationship, but they never use the word “love”.
Perhaps you ask your supervisor about a promotion opening you’re interested in, and he or she says they’re open to exploring all possible candidates, but never specifically state they’re interested in you for the position.
These can be possible examples of “beating around the bush”.
- Beating around the bush means to give a response or speak without stating a clear detailed answer to the matter at hand.
If you ask a friend if they want to go running with you tomorrow morning for some exercise, and they respond by saying, “Well, I’m not really a morning person, and I do have some things to do tomorrow morning, and I like running, so I could possibly make it…” This person is not giving a definitive “yes/no” answer; they are beating around the bush.
The origin of the expression, beating around the bush, comes from centuries ago, when hunters would use sticks or clubs to beat around a bush to get animals to leave from their hiding to be hunted.
So, it wasn’t the direct act of hunting, but just the act before to prepare for hunting.
Likewise, when a person gives you a vague, indirect response, they’re not giving the real, direct answer. They are just using words to go around the response, or delaying time, before giving the direct answer, if they do at all.