The meaning of the English idiom - To sit on the fence

To sit on the fence

= to be uncommitted or undecided
= to remain neutral on a certain topic
= to not have a stance or open opinion about a topic
= to be unable or unwilling to commit oneself to one side of an argument or dispute

This English idiom is used when a person does not take sides in an argument or is hesitant to choose between two sides in a dispute in order to remain neutral.

Sometimes a person sits on the fence to remain on good terms with both sides. Once one side is chosen, the people choosing the opposite side may be offended or not happy with the choice. Sometimes a person sits on the fence due to a lack of courage (and to avoid confrontation) or just because of an inability to decide.

Note: This idiom can be used in different sentences such as “sitting on the fence” (present continuous), “sat on the fence” (past tense).

Example sentences using Sit on the fence

  • The politician did not commit himself to either side of the reporter’s controversial question. He just sat on the fence so as not to lose votes from either side.
  • You can’t sit on the fence any longer – you must choose whose side you are on.
  • You have to choose whether you support the candidate or not. You can’t sit on the fence right now, you must vote!


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