On the fence

On the fence is an idiom that has been in use for close to one hundred years. We will examine the meaning of the idiom on the fence, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.

On the fence means undecided, avoiding taking a side in an argument, refusing to commit to something. Sometimes rendered as sit on the fence, the idiom on the fence describes the avoidance of making a choice. The idiom on the fence has been in use since the 1820s, and is taken from the image of a person straddling a fence, unable to decide whether he should jump down to the left or to the right.


“This isn’t the time for passivity, vague talk, or to sit on the fence,” Barak said, taking a dig at opposition leaders while announcing the reentry. (The New York Jewish Week)

Of those participating, 83 reported they were “vaccine hesitant,” meaning they were on the fence about vaccines.  (The Deseret News)

“If you’ve been on the fence about adopting a Roomba because you have a lot of carpet and pets, I can attest that the Roomba can handle it.” (People Magazine)

We have come all the way to just weeks until a recall election, and we are about to spend roughly $30,000 on the possibility of removing a leader, as our other leaders sit on the fence, afraid to offend. (The Estes Park Trail Gazette)

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