- Definition: Avoiding the main issue.
- Example: “I kept trying to steer the conversation back to his alibi, but he wouldn’t stop beating around the bush, bringing up things totally off-topic.
The origin of this phrase lies in medieval hunting. During bird hunts, some participants would rouse the birds by beating the bushes so that the others could hunt them. The phrase is a very old and the first written reference is from a medieval poem “Generydes – A Romance in Seven-line Stanzas” in 1440, which mentions “beat the bush”. The earliest version which has “about” in it is found in “Works” by George Gascoigne in 1572. The UK version of the phrase is “beat about the bush”, while the American version is “beat around the bush” and is newer and more popular today.
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