Not sure how to spell a word? Hesitate no longer.

1 Feb. “To sit on the fence.” When should I use this English expression?

This English expression is commonly used in both written and spoken language as a metaphor rather than in a literal sense.


The expression is used to denote that someone does not want to make a choice between two things and thus is remaining neutral. It is often used in the context of someone being told that they have to make a decision and “stop sitting on the fence.” It can often also refer to the act of not taking of a side in an argument in order to remain on good terms with both parties.


The expression is said to date back to the Revolutionary War when a judge had not committed to either the Revolutionaries or the Loyalists. George Washington was then said to have asked one of the judge’s slaves which way he was leaning and the slave is said to have replied in saying “until my master knows which is the strongest group, he’s staying on the fence.” It is said that Washington found this reply so apt and amusing that he began using it himself and thus it came into frequent use.


An example of the usage of this expression in spoken language can be found in a quote by previous Chancellor of the Exchequer David Lloyd George; “he has sat on the fence so long that the iron has entered his soul.”

Ne ratez pas

Should I be pleased to be described as “the laughing stock?”

publié le 4 June

Have you ever been described as "the laughing stock?" Do you want to know if this is a compliment or not? If this is the case then keep reading and th...

voir plus

What does it mean if something happens at “the eleventh hour?”

publié le 2 June

The English idiom, "at the eleventh hour" is often used in conversation. It can seem rather confusing if you do not have prior knowledge of what it me...

voir plus

Is it a good thing to “kill time?”

publié le 2 June

This English expression is very commonly used, particularly in general day-to-day conversation. If you want to find out when and how to use it, read t...

voir plus