Hesitate momentarily, out of embarrassment or confusion. This expression is most often used in a negative context, as in He sidestepped the reporter's probe into his personal life without missing a beat, or Not missing a beat, she outlined all the reasons for her decision. This expression alludes to the regular beat of musical time. [Mid-1900s]
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.