Beating around the Bush


This phrase means to avoid answering a question; to stall or to waste time. The origin of the idiom is associated with hunting. In medieval times, hunters hired men to beat the area around bushes with sticks in order to flush out game taking cover underneath. They avoided hitting the bushes directly because this could sometimes prove dangerous; for example, whacking a bees’ nest would put a swift and unwelcome end to the hunt.