Beating a dead horse


      • useless effort
        Continuing to work on or discuss a topic that has already been decided or resolved, resulting in wasted time and energy

      • futility
        Trying to revive or fix something that is beyond repair or no longer relevant, resulting in a pointless endeavor

      • pointlessness
        Repeating an action or argument that has already been proven to be ineffective, resulting in a waste of resources and effort

    Examples of Beating a dead horse

    • Tammy insists on presenting the same sales strategy to her boss every week, even though it has already been rejected several times. This is an example of beating a dead horse, as the strategy is no longer effective and Tammy is wasting her time.

      "Beating a dead horse" is an idiom that means continuing to do something that is no longer productive or effective. The origin of this phrase is uncertain, but it is believed to come from the image of a horse that has already died being beaten continuously, which is both futile and violent. In the context of Tammy's situation, she is persistently presenting a failed sales strategy to her boss, as if she can somehow revive a dead horse. This idiom is often used to describe people who refuse to accept that their ideas or methods have failed and continue to pursue them despite the evidence. In essence, it highlights the futility and wastefulness of such behavior.

    • The marketing team has been presenting the same sales strategy for weeks, but the CEO won't listen. They're beating a dead horse.

      This idiom means that continuing to present a strategy that has already failed or has no chance of success is a waste of time and resources. It's like trying to revive a dead horse.

    • The boss insists on holding team-building exercises that everyone hates. It's like forcing a round peg into a square hole.

      This is a variation of the idiom "beating a dead horse." It means that trying to fix a problem by using a solution that doesn't fit is futile and a waste of time and energy.

    • After the failed merger, the company's leaders should have accepted defeat and moved on. Instead, they're still trying to salvage the deal, even though it's already lost its viability. They're beating a dead horse.

      This idiom is used to describe a situation in which a failed project or initiative is being pursued despite its obvious lack of success. It's like continuing to beat a horse that's already died, hoping to bring it back to life.

    • The politician kept bringing up the same issue that had already been decided by the majority. It's like banging your head against a wall.

      This variation of the idiom highlights the futility and frustration of persisting with an issue that has already been settled. It's like repeatedly hitting your head against an immovable barrier, without any hope of success.

    • The sales team keeps bringing up the failed marketing campaign from last year as if they can magically make it successful again. It's like they're beating a dead horse.

      In this example, the sales team is continuously discussing a marketing campaign that has already failed, just like the metaphorical act of beating a dead horse. It implies that they are wasting time and resources on something that cannot be changed or rectified.

    • My neighbor keeps complaining about the same issue with the homeowner's association, but there's nothing that can be done about it. It's like hitting a brick wall or beating a dead horse.

      Here, the neighbor is persistently bringing up the same problem with the HOA, and it's comparable to beating a dead horse because they are still hoping for a different outcome, but the issue is already resolved, and there's nothing more that can be done about it.

    • The team leader insisted on using the outdated software even after it was clear that a new system was necessary. It was as if they were whipping a dead horse.

      This example is similar to the previous ones, but it uses a different verb to highlight the determination or stubbornness of the team leader. They continued to insist on using the old software, which was like whipping a dead horse because it was no longer functional or effective.


    The phrase "beating a dead horse" is often used to describe an action or effort that is pointless or ineffective. It implies that the subject of the action is no longer capable of responding or producing any desired outcome, making the effort futile. This idiom can be applied to various situations, from continuing to argue a point that has already been settled to trying to fix an issue that is beyond repair.

    In essence, "beating a dead horse" is a metaphor for wasting time and energy on something that is no longer worth pursuing. It suggests that the person is unwilling to accept the outcome or move on from a situation, resulting in a repetitive and fruitless cycle. This idiom is often used to discourage someone from spending any more effort or resources on a particular task or argument.

    Origin of "Beating a dead horse"

    The origin of this idiom can be traced back to the ancient Greek philosopher Plutarch, who used the phrase "flogging a dead horse" in his work "Moralia." It was meant to illustrate the futility of trying to revive or fix something that is already dead or beyond repair. The phrase eventually evolved into "beating a dead horse" and became a popular idiom in the English language.

    Another possible origin of this idiom is from the practice of beating horses to make them move faster. In the past, horses were often used as a means of transportation and if they were tired or injured, their owners would beat them in an attempt to make them move faster. However, this was ultimately ineffective and only caused harm to the animal, making it a pointless effort.

    Overall, the origin of "beating a dead horse" can be attributed to the concept of futility and the realization that continuing to invest time and energy into something that is no longer useful or relevant is a pointless endeavor.