beat around the bush

beat around the bush :

beat a hasty retreat

withdraw, typically in order to avoid something unpleasant.

In former times, a drumbeat could be used to keep soldiers in step while they were retreating.

beat about the bush = beat around the bush

discuss a matter without coming to the point be ineffectual and waste time.

This phrase is a metaphor which originated in the shooting or netting of birds.

compare with
beat the bushes below.

1992 - Barry - Unsworth Sacred Hunger - I don't want to beat about the bush. Mr Adams is threatening to leave us.

beat someone at their own game

use someone's own methods to outdo them in their chosen activity.

beat your breast

make a great show of sorrow or regret

beat the bushes

search thoroughly - North American informal

This expression originates from the way in which hunters walkthrough undergrowth wielding long sticks which are used to force birds or animals out into the open where they can be shot or netted.

beat the clock

perform a task quickly or within a fixed time limit.

beat the daylights out of

give someone a very severe beating – informal

Daylight or daylights has been used from the mid 18th century as a metaphor for eyes and here has the extended sense of any vital organ of the body.

beat the drum for = beat the drum of = bang the drum for = bang the drum of

be ostentatiously in support of

beat your meat = beat the meat

(of a man) masturbate - vulgar slang

beat the pants off

prove to be vastly superior to - Informal

1990 - Paul Auster - The Music of Chance- 'Not bad, kid,' Nashe said. 'You beat the pants off me.'

beat a path to someone's door

(of a large number of people) hasten to make contact with someone regarded as interesting or inspiring.

This phrase developed from the idea of a large number of people trampling down vegetation to make a path

beat the system

succeed in finding a means of getting round rules, regulations or other means of control.

beat someone to it

succeed in doing something or getting somewhere before someone else, to their annoyance.

if you could not beat them, join them

if you are unable to outdo rivals in some endeavour, you might as well cooperate with them and gain whatever advantage possible by doing so - humorous.

miss a beat

hesitate or falter, especially in demanding circumstances or when making a transition from one activity to another.

to beat the band

in such a way as to surpass all competition - North American informal

1995 - Patrick - McCabe - The Dead School - He was polishing away to beat the band.

beat around the bush :

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