English Idioms & Idiomatic Expressions
Hesitation - Indecision - Doubt
|beat around the bush||This expression is
used to tell someone to say what they have
to say, clearly and directly, even if it is
Stop beating around the bush. Just tell me what has been decided!
|blow hot and cold||
If you blow hot and cold about
something, you constantly change your
opinion about it.
The boss keeps blowing hot and cold about the marketing campaign - one day he finds it excellent, the next day he wants to make changes.
|chop and change||If you chop and
change, you constantly change your
opinion, plans or methods and often cause
Don't chop and change all the time - just make up your mind!
|cough up||If you have to
cough up something, such as money or
information, you give it reluctantly or
He refused to say who attacked him until his father made him cough up the names.
|drag one's feet||If you drag your feet, you
delay a decision or participate without any
The government is dragging its feet on measures to reduce pollution.
|get cold feet||If you get cold feet about
something, you begin to hesitate about doing
it; you are no longer sure whether you want
to do it or not.
I wanted to enter the competition but at the last minute I got cold feet.
|on the fence||When faced with a choice, a person who
is on the fence
has not yet reached a decision.
The candidates have such similar ideas that many electors are still on the fence.
|half a mind||If you have half a mind to do
something, you are thinking seriously about
it but have not yet reached a decision.
I've half a mind to start up my own business but first I need some advice.
|hem and haw||When someone
hems and haws, they are very evasive
and avoid giving a clear answer.
Bobby hemmed and hawed when his parents asked him where had spent the night.
|jury is still out||To say that the jury is still out
means that something is under consideration
but no decision has been reached yet.
The jury is still out as concerns the location of the new station.
|left hanging in the air||If a problem or
issue is left hanging in the air
(or in mid-air), no decision has
been taken so it remains without a solution.
No solution was proposed during the meeting so the question was left hanging in the air.
|prod someone into doing||If you prod someone into doing
something, you make a hesitant person
do something that they are reluctant to do.
She was ideal for the job, but I had to prod her into applying for the position.
|put out feelers||Before doing something, if you try to
discover what other people think about it by
making discreet enquiries, you put out
The politician put out feelers to test public reaction to his proposals.
|remains to be seen||If something is still unknown or a
decision has not yet been taken, it
remains to be seen.
The construction of a new hospital has been voted, but the exact location remains to be seen.
|in a quandary||If you are in a quandary, you
find it difficult to decide what to do.
The job offered is less interesting but better paid. I'm in a quandary about what to do.
shilly-shally, you hesitate a lot about
something and have difficulty reaching a
Come on! Don't shilly-shally - just make up your mind!
|sleep on it||
If you take time (until the next day) to
think something over before making a
decision, you sleep on it.
I suggest you sleep on it. You can give me your decision tomorrow.
|toing and froing||Someone who is
toing and froing is either repeatedly
going from one place to another and coming
back, or is constantly changing their mind
After months of toing and froing, a compromise was reached between the two parties.
|in two minds||If you are in two minds about
something, you have difficulty deciding what
I'm in two minds about whether or not to accept the offer.
|up in the air||If something, such as a plan or
decision, is up in the air, it has
not been decided or settled yet.
I can't give you a definite answer yet; the project is still up in the air.
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