In Polish language there is a phrase which literally translates to "send someone on a tree".

The meaning is to give evasive and/or disrespectful answer, in order to get rid of someone.

An example, when senior developers answers "RTFM" to the junior's answer without even analysing the problem (and probably not listening, because he was chatting on Facebook etc.).

Is there any English phrase/idiom with similar meaning?

  • 2
    I suspect that a more accurate literal translation is "send someone up a tree." In English, if one climbs a tree, one goes up a tree. One might see a sign on a tree, but if a person is on a tree, it's probably because he was glued to it or something. On the other hand, you would indeed send someone on a wild-goose chase (but after a red herring). This is a good example of how arbitrary preposition usage can be in languages.
    – BobRodes
    Mar 13, 2014 at 17:39
  • Go fly a kite. Go soak your head. These are disrespectful but not evasive.
    – Msfolly
    May 31, 2019 at 13:04

2 Answers 2


As mentioned by @CopperKettle in a comment, "wild-goose chase" is the first idiomatic phrase that comes to mind. To send someone on a wild-goose chase is to recommend they pursue something unattainable. It can definitely be used in the context of getting rid of someone.

A "snipe hunt" is a similar idiomatic phrase, but it's specifically associated with sending a newcomer on an errand that anyone with experience would know is unachievable and nonsensical.

However, I'm not sure either of these is quite what you're looking for, as the element of disrespect with these phrases is pretty mild.

Another phrase you might consider, although I don't think it's a direct parallel to the Polish phrase, is "to blow someone off". "To blow something off" means to dismissively ignore something, and is a very generic phrase with a stronger air of disrespect. Furthermore, it can be used in the context of giving an empty, possibly evasive answer, with the specific intention of getting rid of someone. For example, if you were to ask someone out on a date, and they told you they're busy reorganizing their sock drawer that night, that would be a harsh blow-off. In the case of the senior developer telling a junior developer to "RTFM", the senior developer is blowing off the junior developer.

It sounds like you're looking for a combination of "to send someone on a wild-goose chase" and "to blow someone off", and such a phrase isn't coming to mind for me.

  • I think blow someone off is most responsive to the parameters the OP gives. A wild goose chase (or "red herring") can be unintentional and often is, while a snipe hunt is more intentional. Just as you say, there isn't the element of disrespect in these. Also, sending someone on a snipe hunt has more the feeling of pulling his leg to me.
    – BobRodes
    Mar 13, 2014 at 17:34
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    +1 But blow off has a fairly wide range of contexts - you can blow off an appointment, for instance - and to my ear it suggests being deliberately offensive. I wonder if you might not also include brush off? Mar 13, 2014 at 17:47

"Blow [someone] off", as markproxy suggests is perhaps the closest. It is rude and suggests a very dismissive response, like "RTFM".

Another one could be "give [someone] the runaround". It is not quite as common a phrase. It has more of a sense of being evasive and unhelpful, rather than rude and dismissive. Like when you call some large company and they keep passing you off to different departments and you never get your problem solved.

Finally "give [someone] the cold shoulder" is a weird but common phrase meaning to rudely ignore someone, to be unresponsive (probably because you are upset with them).

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