Grammar Monster
Grammar Monster

To Beat about the Bush (Origin)

What Is the Origin of the Saying "To Beat about the Bush"?

The phrase to beat about the bush is used when somebody shows unnecessary caution or hesitation.

To beat about the bush comes from the 14th century proverb one beats the bush, another takes the bird, which means that while one person does most of the work, the other takes the profit. The phrase comes from the early hunting of game-birds when the beater would disturb the bird and the hunter would catch it. By beating about the bush and not in it, you ensure the other person does not benefit from your activity. The term is most commonly seen in the form stop beating about the bush, which means get on with it or do it properly.



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