Idiom 4 – Beat around the bush

Isn’t it frustrating when you ask someone a simple question, and instead of giving a direct answer they talk and talk, without ever getting to the point. You can simply say to them: Don’t…

…beat around the bush = Um den heißen Brei herumreden

The meaning of this idiom comes from hunting. In bird hunts some of the hunters would frighten the birds by beating the bushes and making them fly away. This made it possible for other hunters to catch the birds in nets. So ‚beating about the bush‘ was what you did before the main event – capturing of the birds. The phrase is very old and was first recorded circa 1440 in the medieval poem Generydes – A Romance in Seven-line Stanzas, another great example of the way English spelling has changed over the centuries:

„Butt as it hath be sayde full long agoo,
Some bete the bussh and some the byrdes take.“
(„But as it has been said full long ago,
Some beat the bush and some the bird take“)