Kick into the Long Grass – Meaning, Origin & Examples

kick into the long grass meaning and examples

The idiom “kick into the long grass” is used to describe the act of delaying or avoiding dealing with a problem or issue. It implies postponing a decision or action, typically in the hope that the problem or issue will go away or be forgotten.

This idiom is often used in political contexts, where a government or politician might delay dealing with a contentious or difficult issue.

For example, if a government is avoiding addressing a controversial policy, they might be accused of “kicking it into the long grass.”

chrisAbout the Author: has a PhD in Education. He has been a teacher in schools and universities and has taught English as a Second Language in Colombia. He is former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education.

Kick into the Long Grass Idiom Origins

The idiom has its roots in the sport of football, where the ball might be kicked into the long grass surrounding the pitch to delay play.

The earliest known usage of this idiom is not precisely documented. It has been a part of colloquial English, particularly in the United Kingdom, since the early 1990s.

Interestingly, Google’s scanners, which scan books throughout history for key terms, demonstrate that this idiom was almost non-existent in the 1980s, demonstrating that it’s a very new idiom:

Here’s a brief overview of its origin:

  • Football Practices: In football, when a player kicks the ball into the long grass around the field, it takes time to retrieve, effectively delaying the game. This tactic could be used to waste time, especially if a team is leading and wants to maintain their advantage.
  • Avoiding Resolution: The metaphorical use of this phrase implies delaying or avoiding dealing with a problem or issue, hoping it might be forgotten or become less relevant over time. It has been widely used in political discourse to describe the avoidance of addressing contentious issues.

15 Examples in a Sentence

  • “The government seems to be kicking the issue into the long grass to avoid controversy.”
  • “Instead of solving the problem, he just kicked it into the long grass.”
  • “The committee is kicking the proposal into the long grass to avoid making a decision.”
  • “Why are you kicking this into the long grass? We need solutions now.”
  • “She accused the council of kicking the housing crisis into the long grass.”
  • “The CEO kicked the restructuring plan into the long grass to avoid employee unrest.”
  • “By kicking the decision into the long grass, they hope the opposition will lose momentum.”
  • “The administration kicked the policy reform into the long grass until after the elections.”
  • “He’s known for kicking difficult tasks into the long grass and focusing on the easy wins.”
  • “The board kicked the investment plan into the long grass due to financial constraints.”
  • “The team kicked the software update into the long grass to prioritize bug fixes.”
  • “She kicked the conversation into the long grass to avoid a confrontation.”
  • “The senator kicked the bill into the long grass to avoid alienating his base.”
  • “The management kicked the salary review into the long grass due to budgetary concerns.”
  • “The teacher kicked the curriculum change into the long grass to maintain the status quo.”

Practice Questions Worksheet for Students

Question 1: If a politician kicks a controversial bill into the long grass, what are they likely doing?

  • a) Supporting it vehemently
  • b) Delaying or avoiding it
  • c) Promoting it actively
  • d) Voting for it immediately

Question 2: Which of the following situations best describes someone kicking something into the long grass?

  • a) A student diligently completing their assignment.
  • b) A manager addressing employee concerns promptly.
  • c) A government delaying reforms due to public opposition.
  • d) A chef preparing a meal immediately upon order.

Question 3: If a company kicks a product launch into the long grass, what might be the reason?

  • a) The product is highly anticipated.
  • b) There are unresolved issues with the product.
  • c) The product has received excellent reviews.
  • d) The market conditions are perfect.

Question 4: In a project team, if a member kicks a task into the long grass, what does it imply?

  • a) They have completed the task efficiently.
  • b) They are actively working on the task.
  • c) They are delaying or avoiding the task.
  • d) They are seeking help with the task.

Similar Idioms

1. Sweep under the rug

Definition: To hide or ignore a problem or difficulty in the hope it will be forgotten.

In a Sentence: “The company swept the scandal under the rug to avoid bad publicity.”

2. Turn a blind eye

Definition: To ignore undesirable information or behavior.

In a Sentence: “The supervisor turned a blind eye to the employee’s tardiness.”

3. Bury one’s head in the sand

Definition: To ignore obvious problems or dangers.

In a Sentence: “He buried his head in the sand regarding his financial troubles.”

4. Pass the buck

Definition: To shift responsibility to someone else.

In a Sentence: “The manager passed the buck to his subordinate.”

5. Procrastinate

Definition: To delay or postpone action.

In a Sentence: “She procrastinated on her assignment until the last minute.”

6. Shelve

Definition: To decide not to proceed with (a project or plan), either temporarily or permanently.

In a Sentence: “The development plans were shelved due to environmental concerns.”

7. Stall

Definition: To delay taking action or avoid giving an answer in order to have more time to make a decision or wait for a better opportunity.

In a Sentence: “He stalled the negotiations to get a better deal.”

8. Drag one’s feet

Definition: To delay doing something.

In a Sentence: “The contractor dragged his feet on the construction project.”

9. Dilly-dally

Definition: To waste time through aimless wandering or indecision.

In a Sentence: “Stop dilly-dallying and get to work!”

10. Beat around the bush

Definition: To avoid talking about what is important.

In a Sentence: “Don’t beat around the bush; get to the point!”

11. Hedge

Definition: To avoid giving a clear answer, thereby escaping responsibility or blame.

In a Sentence: “The witness hedged when questioned about the incident.”

12. Sideline

Definition: To cause (a person or thing) to be unable to participate in an activity; to exclude or set aside.

In a Sentence: “The player was sidelined due to an injury.”

13. Dodge the bullet

Definition: To narrowly avoid a bad situation.

In a Sentence: “He dodged the bullet by not investing in the fraudulent scheme.”

14. Skirt the issue

Definition: To avoid dealing with a problem or question.

In a Sentence: “The politician skirted the issue during the debate.”

15. Play for time

Definition: To use delaying tactics; to stall.

In a Sentence: “The defendant played for time by requesting a new attorney.”

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