on the fence

Also found in: Thesaurus, Financial, Idioms, Encyclopedia.


1. A structure serving as an enclosure, a barrier, or a boundary, usually made of posts or stakes joined together by boards, wire, or rails.
2. An adjustable guide with a flat edge used on a table saw and positioned parallel to the plane of the cutting attachment in order to keep the board properly positioned for the cut to be made at the correct distance from the board's edge.
a. One who receives and sells stolen goods.
b. A place where stolen goods are received and sold.
4. Archaic A means of defense; a protection.
v. fenced, fenc·ing, fenc·es
1. To surround or enclose with a fence or other barrier. See Synonyms at enclose.
2. To separate or keep out by means of a fence or other barrier: fenced off one field from another; fenced out the deer from the garden.
3. To sell (stolen goods) to a fence.
4. Archaic
a. To ward off; keep away.
b. To defend.
1. To practice the art or sport of fencing.
2. To avoid giving direct answers; hedge.
3. To act as a conduit for stolen goods.
on the fence Informal
Undecided as to which of two sides to support; uncommitted or neutral.

[Middle English fens, short for defens, defense; see defense.]

fenc′er n.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Adj.1.on the fence - characterized by indecisionon the fence - characterized by indecision; "some who had been on the fence came out in favor of the plan"; "too many voters still declare they are undecided"
indecisive - characterized by lack of decision and firmness; "an indecisive manager brought the enterprise to a standstill"
Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.
avoir le cul entre deux chaises
References in classic literature ?
They soon discovered that the path they had been following now made a bend and passed around the enclosure, but what made Ojo stop and look thoughtful was a sign painted on the fence which read: