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Beat about the bush

Posted by Henry on December 16, 2003

In Reply to: Beat around the bush posted by James Briggs on December 15, 2003

: : : : In an earlier thread someone used this term. It's one I use myself a lot. I've done a search, and I kind find plenty of definitions, but no origins. Does anyone know where this comes from?

: : I thik there are two possibilities - one literal, the other figurative. If one were hunting and wanted to flush a creature from cover - one could 'beat' around a literal bush, rather than go into it. More figuratively, it would mean not getting stuck in there - perhaps teasing a little?
: : The expression implies unnecessarily indirect action, rather than a planned stage in something.

: This saying is several hundred years old and comes from hunting. The beaters beat for the hunters, often around bushes; however they never catch the prey, it's always the hunters, who go directly to the quarry.

Beaters are employed at shoots to flush the game birds, plus rabbits and hares, out of the cover and send them towards the guns.
The phrase I know is beat about the bush, used to mean avoiding the issue. "Don't beat about the bush - get to the point!" I don't know if this has the same origin.