Beat a dead horse


      • Waste time or effort
        Revisiting or discussing a topic or issue that has already been resolved or decided, resulting in unproductive and futile efforts

      • Flog a dead horse
        Attempting to fix or improve something that is beyond repair or already beyond help, often resulting in further damage or harm

      • Continue to pursue a lost cause
        Persisting in a fruitless endeavor, despite knowing that it will not lead to the desired outcome

    Examples of Beat a dead horse

    • The sales team kept presenting the same marketing strategy to the CEO, even though it had already been rejected multiple times. They were beating a dead horse.

      This idiom means to continue doing something that is pointless or futile, as if trying to revive a dead animal. In this case, the sales team was wasting their time and resources by persistently presenting a rejected strategy to the CEO. It suggests that they should move on and focus on more productive ideas.


    In summary, the idiom "beat a dead horse" is used to express the idea of wasting time and effort on something that is already resolved or beyond repair. It can also refer to persisting in a fruitless pursuit or endeavor.

    The phrase is often used in a cautionary or discouraging manner, advising against engaging in such activities and highlighting the futility of doing so. It can also be used to convey a sense of frustration or resignation towards a situation or topic that has been repeatedly discussed without any progress or resolution.

    Origin of "Beat a dead horse"

    The origin of this idiom can be traced back to the practice of horse racing and gambling in the 19th century. When a horse lost a race, it was common for the owner to continue to beat the dead horse in an attempt to revive it and make it run again. This futile and often cruel act soon became associated with any unproductive or pointless effort.

    The idiom has evolved over time and is now commonly used in various contexts, not just related to horse racing. Its figurative meaning and widespread use in everyday language make it a popular idiom in English.