Beat Around the Bush

Meaning of “Beat Around the Bush”

The phrase “beat around the bush” means to talk about different things instead of the actual topic. It means to evade the mentioned point that is being discussed in a group. Often the phrase is also used when someone is tried to hide the truth or prolong giving news. People who gossip also tend to avoid speaking about anything directly. Hence this phrase is applicable in that situation.

Origin of “Beat Around the Bush”

The phrase “beat around the bush” is stated to have evolved from the literal meanings that people used to find birds in bushes to make them fly and be trapped in their nets. However, it has first appeared in an old romantic poem in 1440 titled as Generydes – a Romance in Seven-Line Stanza. It goes thus:

“Butt as it hath be sayde full long agoo,
Some bete the bussh and some the byrdes take.”

Since then, it has become popular with some changes in the spellings.

Examples in Literature

Example #1

Beat Around the Bush by AC/DC

Smiling face and loving eyes
But you keep on telling me all those lies
How do you expect me to believe
Honey I ain’t that naïve

Baby I got my eye on you
‘Cause you do all the things I want you to
Stop your cryin’ and dry your tears
I ain’t that wet behind the ears

The speaker clearly explains that he is not as innocent and simple that he does not understand the lies his beloved had told him. Therefore, he states that he knows this but he wants her to stop crying and acting. In other words, the phrase “beat around the bush” has been clearly defined through these verses. Here, it means to pretend and tell the truth.

Example #2

Rose Come Home by Daryl Hall & John Oates

You beat around the bush
And I beat around the bush
We all beat around the bush
And I’m just here to tell you tonight

Help, I am imprisoned
Inside an old sombrero
The big hand is on the nine
Forty Chinese oranges
Are drinking Dr. Pepper
Rosie, won’t you be mine

The speaker tells his beloved that in the era when all are avoiding reality, he wants to tell her that he loves her. He talks about the sombrero (hat), time, and people indulging in pleasure as he offers Rosie, his beloved, to accept his love. The meanings of the phrase repeated in the first stanza are very clear.

Example #3

I Want to Know by Mojibur Rahman

Be a liar or rightly beat about the bush
Can’t change the flow of time by a push
It is the case that never can’t see the light
Papillae do not taste the sweetest of wines
And our eyes can’t see the ray that shines
Such is the split in the creation of a man
With an immortal soul lives a mortal can

Here the poet wants to state that there are many things that our minds cannot understand. However, they are not put in such a way as a liar beat around the bush. The phrase has been used in its original words, giving original meanings of avoiding coming to the point.

Example #4

Tesla: The Modern Sorcerer by Daniel Blair Stewart

“That’s Thomas Edison to you, Mister Wilbur!”
“So? Thomas Edison. What do you want, Thomas Edison?”
“Just a minute of your time, Wilbur. We can go somewhere – the drink’er on me. Just – what is it, Wilbur? You let one get away from me.”
“What’s that?”
“Acoustic telegraphy, as one Mister Gray puts it.”
“I see. You certainly don’t beat around the bush, do you, sir?”
“Oh, yes I do, Zenas. I beat around a lot of bushes. That’s how I get what I want. I beat around bushes. I beat them with sticks. And – d’ya know what I get, Zenas? I get telegraphy inventions, that’s what I get. Telegraphy inventions. And you, why you, Zenas, are one of the bushes I beat around.”

This paragraph shows the supposed persona of Thomas Edison, Wilbur, and Zenas. When Wilbur asks Zenas for not beating around the bush. He plays with this phrase in such a way that it diverts from its real meanings and creates laughter.

Examples in Sentences

Example #1: “The teacher asked Joseph to come to the point instead of beating around the bush.”

Example #2: “Herman wanted to tell a secret to his father. However, he was worried about his father’s reaction. So, he was beating around the bush until his father lost patience.”

Example #3: “Ralph talks and beats around the bush despite warnings from the authorities.”

Example #4: “It is better to beat around the bush, instead of delivering the harsh truth to the grieving family at once.”

Example #5: “When Oscar spent his pocket money in a single day, he tried to get extra cash from his mother. Instead of asking directly, he began to beat around the bush.”