To beat around, or about, the bush is a figure of speech meaning to express an idea via roundabout and superfluous language, rather than saying something directly.

The expression probably originates from the fifteenth-century sport of "batfowling", which was simply hunting birds at night, armed with a light with which to stun the birds and a bat with which to kill them. Or, in some instances, the hunter would use a net for trapping, hiring someone, usually a boy, to stir up the birds asleep in a bush. The birds, attracted by the light, would fly into it and become entangled in the net.

When there were more birds in a flock than could roost on one bush, the batfowlers usually would beat the bushes adjacent to the one on which the main flock was asleep, causing the by now obvious metaphor.