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Hum and haw

Definitions

  • Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
    • Hum and haw to hesitate in giving a direct answer
    • ***

Etymology

Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
Imit.; cf. Ger. hummen, humsen.

Usage

In literature:

He hesitated, blushed, hummed and hawed.
"The Way of All Flesh" by Samuel Butler
The Beau made a thousand apologies, hummed, hawed, and drew a card from his pocket.
"The Wits and Beaux of Society" by Grace & Philip Wharton
And after looking about him and humming and hawing, 'Won't you sit?
"The Castle Inn" by Stanley John Weyman
He hummed and hawed that workmen must come to bring her better hangings, and a servitor be found to keep her door.
"The Fifth Queen" by Ford Madox Ford
If Rosie wouldn't hum and haw I'd be the happiest man alive.
"The Side Of The Angels" by Basil King
And there his nag did kick and prank; he, haw, hum!
"The Nursery Rhymes of England" by Various
They hummed, and hawed, and heyed, and coughed their immeasurable satisfaction.
"My Kalulu, Prince, King and Slave" by Henry M. Stanley
The priest hummed and hawed.
"Old New Zealand:" by 'A Pakeha Maori' [Frederick Edwa [Maning]
After dinner, the Squire began to hum and haw, and Frank to color up and shrink.
"Harper's New Monthly Magazine, v. 3, number 18" by Various
Why all this humming and hawing?
"A Noble Name" by Claire Von Gl├╝mer
And he made a sort of humming and hawing about intruding himself (as he called it) without an invitation.
"Pencil Sketches" by Eliza Leslie
After dinner, the Squire began to hum and haw, and Frank to color up and shrink.
"The International Monthly, Volume 4, No. 4, November 1, 1851" by Various
Lord Camden looked at Lord Clare and hummed, and hawed, and shuffled.
"My Lords of Strogue, Vol. II (of III)" by Lewis Wingfield
There's no need for any more humming and hawing about it.
"The White Blackbird" by Hudson Douglas
The priest hummed and hawed.
"Old New Zealand" by A Pakeha Maori
He seemed rather fidgety in his manner, I thought, and hummed and hawed considerably before he would explain his mission.
"Jewel Mysteries" by Max Pemberton
The average doctor hums and haws, and tells you nothing.
"The Twickenham Peerage" by Richard Marsh
Blas hummed and hawed and chewed the idea for a while.
"Poor Folk in Spain" by Jan Gordon
A very special functionary was called, who hesitated, hummed and hawed.
"The Drunkard" by Cyril Arthur Edward Ranger Gull
Belle hummed and hawed, and looked very cross, but finally did leave the room.
"The Girls of St. Wode's" by L. T. Meade
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In poetry:

These simple words made PETER as delighted as could be,
Old chummies at the Charterhouse were ROBINSON and he!
He walked straight up to SOMERS, then he turned extremely red,
Hesitated, hummed and hawed a bit, then cleared his throat, and said:
"Etiquette" by William Schwenck Gilbert

In news:

Emily is humming and hawing.
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