chasing his tail


      • being unproductive or wasting time
        Describe someone who is expending a lot of effort but not making any progress or achieving anything

      • being confused or disoriented
        Describe someone who is going around in circles or is unable to make any real progress in a situation

    Examples of chasing his tail

    • John keeps repeating the same mistakes over and over again, like a dog chasing its tail. It seems like he's not learning from his past experiences and is wasting his time and energy on a pointless task.

      The idiom "chasing his tail" means to engage in a futile or repetitive activity that achieves nothing. It originated from the behavior of dogs that chase their own tails in a circular motion, but cannot actually catch them. It's used to describe people who repeat the same actions or decisions, expecting a different outcome, despite the fact that it's unlikely or impossible to achieve.

    • Sarah's obsession with being the best in everything she does has turned into a never-ending cycle of competing with herself. She's constantly chasing her own success, trying to surpass her own achievements, instead of embracing her existing accomplishments and focusing on new challenges.

      In this example, "chasing her own success" is a similar idiomatic expression that conveys the same meaning of futility and repetitiveness. It's used to describe people who are so fixated on their own excellence that they neglect other aspects of their life or relationships, and become dissatisfied with what they already have.

    • Mark's constant need for perfection is causing him to lose sight of what's truly important. He's stuck in a frustrating cycle of reworking his projects endlessly, not recognizing that sometimes, good enough is all that's needed.

      Here, "stuck in a frustrating cycle" adds another dimension to the expression, indicating that it's not just a waste of time, but also a source of aggravation and stress. It's used to suggest that the person is unable to break free from this habit or mindset, and needs to reconsider their priorities and values.

    • Karen's tendency to overthink everything leads her to second-guess her decisions and start all over again. She's been chasing her own thoughts for so long that she's lost track of what she truly wants.

      In this example, "chasing her own thoughts" is a unique variation of the idiom that emphasizes the inner turmoil and confusion of the person. It's used to describe individuals who are indecisive, overly analytical, or have a paralyzing fear of making mistakes, and end up wasting their energy on futile reflections that prevent them from taking action.

    • The sales manager was chasing his tail trying to meet the quarterly targets with a small team and limited resources.

      In this example, "chasing his tail" is used as a metaphor to describe a situation where the sales manager is trying to accomplish an impossible or futile task by working excessively and ineffectively. Just as a dog chases its tail in circles without making any progress, the manager is wasting his efforts and not making the desired impact on the sales figures.

    • The politician's campaign appeared to be chasing its tail as his rivals outmaneuvered him at every turn.

      In this example, "chasing its tail" is used to describe a situation where a losing cause or strategy is being pursued. Just as a dog continues chasing its tail without any real progress, the politician's efforts seem to be getting him nowhere, as his opponents maintain the upper hand.

    • The writer had been chasing his tail trying to find the right words for three days straight.

      This example uses "chasing his tail" to describe a scenario where someone has been struggling to accomplish a specific task, but is making little to no progress. The writer in this case has been racking his brain for three days trying to come up with the perfect words, but seems to be spinning his wheels and getting nowhere.

    • The project manager was chasing his tail trying to juggle multiple conflicting priorities at once.

      Here, "chasing his tail" is used to describe a situation where someone is being pulled in too many directions and is unable to focus on any one thing. The project manager in this example is having to handle a multitude of competing demands, much like a dog chasing multiple objects at once, without being able to concentrate on any one task and achieve meaningful results.


    The idiom "chasing his tail" can be used to describe someone who is either being unproductive and wasting time or is confused and disoriented. It essentially means that the person is expending a lot of effort but not making any real progress or achieving anything. This can be used to caution against engaging in unproductive activities or to describe someone who is unable to make any real progress in a situation.

    Origin of "chasing his tail"

    The origin of the idiom "chasing his tail" can be traced back to the behavior of dogs and other animals that chase their own tails. This behavior is often seen as a futile and unproductive activity, as the animal is expending a lot of energy but not achieving anything of real value. Over time, this behavior has been used as a metaphor for human activities that are similarly unproductive or futile. The idiom likely originated from this comparison and has since been used to describe various situations where a person is expending effort but not making any real progress.

    One example of this idiom in use is: "He's been chasing his tail trying to fix that problem, but he's not getting anywhere."