What Does Beating A Dead Horse Mean? (Perfect answer)

  • Beating a dead horse is an idiomatic expression with a figurative rather than literal meaning. If you’re beating a dead horse, you’re engaged in a futile or pointless action. In other words, you’re pursuing a lost cause and wasting time and effort.

What does beating a dead horse come from?

The origin of the expression ‘beat a dead horse’ comes from the mid-19th century, when the practice of beating horses to make them go faster was often viewed as acceptable. To beat a dead horse would be pointless, as it wouldn’t be able to go anywhere.

What does dead horse mean in slang?

Dead horse – rhyming slang for tomato sauce.

What is another way to say beating a dead horse?

In this page you can discover 5 synonyms, antonyms, idiomatic expressions, and related words for beat-a-dead-horse, like: belabor, dwell-upon, flog-a-dead-horse, harp on and dwell-on.

How do you drag a dead horse?

Secure the tow rope or drag chain to the front loader or pick-up and slowly drag the carcass from the stall. Once the carcass has been removed from the stall, the carcass may be lifted with the forks of the skid steer or tractor and moved.

Can’t kick a horse when it’s down?

It is a mashup of “Kick (one) when (one) is down” (to criticize someone wh has already suffered a setback) and “beat a dead horse” (to continue to focus or talk about something). Idioms that include the word “horse” are for some reason continually mixed up.

What does it mean to dead horse a girl?

beat / flog a dead horse, to persist in pursuing or trying to revive interest in a project or subject that has lost its usefulness or relevance.

What does horse head in bed mean?

In the years since The Godfather debuted, putting a horse’s head in someone’s bed has become a widely known meme of sorts—shorthand for making someone an offer they can’t refuse, or forcing them to give you something they don’t want to give you.

What does the phrase dark horse mean?

A dark horse is a previously less known person or thing that emerges to prominence in a situation, especially in a competition involving multiple rivals, or a contestant that on paper should be unlikely to succeed but yet still might.

Is beat a dead horse a metaphor?

Flogging a dead horse (also beating a dead horse) is an Anglophone idiom that means that a particular effort is futile, a waste of time without a positive outcome, e.g. such as flogging a dead horse, which will not compel him to useful work.

Why do you have to beat around the bush?

People tend to ‘beat about the bush’ when trying to avoid talking about an embarrassing or difficult topic. This idiom came about through bird hunting when participants used to beat bushes to stir the birds from them while others caught them in nets.

Can you bury horses?

Horse burial is often the first thought that comes to mind when the end of life comes to our equine friends. But it is important to consider the practicalities. Horses that are kept as pets can be buried provided the owner, obtains the agreement of their local authority and follows its advice.

How do you move an injured horse?

A horse with a severe injury may be loaded into a trailer using a blanket or tarp. If the horse is severely injured and cannot stand, it can be pulled onto the trailer using a large tarp or blanket. The horse should be kept sedated during transport, to avoid injuries.

Flogging a dead horse – Wikipedia

a guy sits on a dead horse in the Wisconsin city of Sheboygan The expression “to beat a dead horse” came up as a result of the reality that flogging a dead horse will not persuade him to perform productive labor. When someone says they’re flogging a dead horse, they’re really saying they’re beating a dead horse. It’s an Anglophoneidiom that denotes that a certain attempt is fruitless and is a waste of time with no beneficial effect, such asflogginga dead horse, which will not drive him to do helpful labor.

Early usage

It is believed that the English politician and orator John Bright is responsible for popularizing the statement. Bright’s efforts to promote parliamentary reform were criticized by Lord Elchore, who stated in the House of Commons in March 1859 that Bright was “dissatisfied with the results of his winter campaign” and that “a saying was attributed to him that he found himself ‘flogging a dead horse.'” Bright’s efforts to promote parliamentary reform were criticized by Lord Elchore in the House of Commons in March 1859.

In 1872, The Globenewspaper, reporting the Prime Minister, William Gladstone’s futile efforts to defend the Ecclesiastical Courts and Registries Bill in the Commons, observed that he “might be said to have rehearsed that particularly lively operation known as flogging a dead horse.” The phrase was first recorded in theOxford English Dictionary in the year 1872.

  1. As a result of paying for such difficult labor in advance, the likelihood of a horse’s task being completed, rather than merely keeping the cash, may be symbolized by adeadhorse (expecting work from a horse that you had already killed).
  2. Foster appears to have “played for” the dead horse by asking money for labor that he had not performed, and he appears to have recouped his losses by discovering it.
  3. A thorough description and historical context of the “Flogging the Dead Horse” event is provided by historian Alfred Simmons in his bookOld England and New Zealand.
  4. Ahead of departing the port, the sailors would get their wages and then waste their money before embarking on the ship with nothing.
  5. However, once a month had passed, the sailors would have arrived in the Horse latitudes, where the horse’s pay were due and paid, causing the horse to come back to life.

In an ancient Greek drama by Sophocles, Antigone, the character says, “Nay, grant the dead their claim; stab not the fallen; what prowess is it to slaughter the slain again?” One of the oldest known equivalents may be found in the phrase “Nay, grant the dead their claim; stab not the fallen.”

Further reading

  • Olivia A. Isil is the author of this work (1996). When a Loose Cannon Flogs a Dead Horse, There’s a Devil to Pay: Common Seafaring Phrases in Everyday Conversation International Marine.ISBN0-07-032877-3
  • International Marine.ISBN0-07-032877-3
  • International Marine.


  1. Olivia A. Isil is the author of this article (1996). When a Loose Cannon Flogs a Dead Horse, There’s a Devil to Pay: Common Seafaring Phrases in Everyday Speech International Marine.ISBN0-07-032877-3
  2. International Marine.ISBN0-07-032877-3

External links

  • “Sensational Etymologies,” TakeOurWord.com
  • “Beating a Dead Horse,” TakeOurWord.com
  • “Beating a Dead Horse.” It is possible to get more information at GoEnglish.com or by searching for “en-au-flog a dead horse.ogg.”

Beating a Dead Horse – Meaning and Origin

To “beat a dead horse” is to bring up a problem that has already been resolved. It is possible that any additional conversation on the subject may be deemed meaningless due to the fact that the subject has already been discussed. To provide an example, as I stated last week, our vacation to Vancouver has been postponed until next year, so please refrain from asking me about it in the meanwhile. Synonyms / Phrases that are similar: 1. Putting a dying horse back into the race 2. Bringing it home to roost

TheOriginof ‘Beating a Dead Horse’:

There are various expressions and sayings that have derived from horse racing that are still in use today. It is probable that this one is descended from it as well. What do you mean? During a horse race, a jockey normally has access to a riding crop, which is a whip-like implement that appears similar to a little whip. The jockey uses the riding crop to “beat” or “strike” the horse (usually on the thigh, I guess) in order to motivate them to go faster and therefore earn more money. While there is some debate over how horses are handled during races, there is a reason to “beating” a horse during this activity: it allows the animal to go faster.

  • There wouldn’t be any; it would be completely worthless!
  • In any case, this proverb may be traced back to at least the year 1859.
  • It was widely known that Mr.
  • The term ‘flogging’ refers to a form of punishment that includes beating.
  • You’ll discover more popular sayings like this one if you look around.


  • So, why do you continue on flogging a dead horse by bringing up these old issues of ours again and again?
  • Blake was planning on having a dispute with his pals over which of the two automobiles had better gas mileage, but his buddies warned him that it would be like flogging a dead horse.

Note: While this is not the case for all phrases and sayings, it is occasionally the case that the origin of a phrase or saying is unknown. When that happens, if there are any explanations circulating about that discuss how it may have come to be, I’ll almost certainly include it since it is interesting. If there is no explanation provided on the website, there should still be an old quotation that illustrates the idiom in question. This might provide you with an indication of how old it is.

What Does Beating a Dead Horse Mean?

Trying to complete a task that has already been completed is an example of time-wasting behavior. This term is frequently used when individuals persist attempting to solve an issue that has already been addressed, usually through debate or argument, despite the fact that the problem has been solved. The idiom “flogging a dead horse” is a variant on this theme. Flogging is a slang term for being beaten.

Origin ofBeating a Dead Horse

Originally, this phrase had a literal connotation, in which a horse owner or rider would strike his or her horse to get it to go more quickly. If the horse, on the other hand, was already dead, no amount of thrashing would be enough to bring it back to life.

If a choice has already been taken, no amount of deliberation will be able to modify that decision any further. During the second part of the nineteenth century, this term and its variations began to appear in print for the first time.

Examples ofBeating a Dead Horse

In the exchange below, this phrase is used to try to bring an argument to a close. Rodrigo: It’s far better just to accept your guilt and move on. Alisha: I’m not going to confess to the crime. If I do, I run the risk of being expelled! Rodrigo: But if you don’t confess, it will only continue to eat away at your spirit. You’ll be wondering whether or not someone will find out! Alisha: I’m sorry, but this is a decision I’ve made, not one you’ve made. And I’ve made the decision not to confess, so don’t waste your time pounding a dead horse.

  1. In the following example, two friends are talking about a topic they heard on the news and want to share their thoughts.
  2. Stephanie: I understand, but the school was ancient even when we were students there, so I understand.
  3. But consider all of the pleasant memories we have associated with it.
  4. Alternatively, a retirement house!
  5. It will be demolished the next day.
  6. Stephanie: I’m sorry, Luis, but you’re circling the wagons on a non-existent horse.
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More Examples

Using the phrase, this remark implies that movie sequels are simply rehashing the same concepts that were presented in their predecessors rather than achieving anything new.

  • In the words of Jeff Bock, an Exhibitor Relations box-office analyst, “sequels are simply about gently pounding a dead horse.” –The Los Angeles Times

It is in this comment that a player featured in an excerpt from an article below expresses his desire for the media to quit discussing how they believe he performed poorly during a football game.

  • As Weeden said on Wednesday, “Obviously, you guys (the media) are flogging a dead horse by talking about throwing the ball below.” “It was always our intention to do so.” Take a look back at the game. Were there a number of moments when I could have thrown the ball to outside receivers because of the plays that were called? “There were maybe one or two things I could have put out there,” says the author. US News & World Report


When someone says, “Beating a dead horse,” they are referring to the act of continuing to do something that is unachievable or has already been determined or accomplished.

Urban Dictionary: beating a dead horse

Even if you wish to keep riding, pounding a dead horse will not get you anywhere. If something has already been completed and completed, there is no need in continuing to discuss it. There is no purpose in attempting to use something that has already been damaged. Someone had a breakup with their girlfriend/boyfriend and continues to complain about them to their friends weeks after the breakup. That individual is stomping on a dead horse; the relationship is finished, and there is no need in continuing to worry about it because the subject has already been settled with your separation.

  1. Following an accident, repeatedly attempting to start your automobile when it is evident that the vehicle will not start is a bad idea.
  2. Attempting to start it equals defeating it.
  3. A.) Someone gives a ” pity laugh ” (this is generally the person who told the joke in the first place); or B.) Someone makes a ” pity cry ” B.) Everyone has left the building.
  4. This is a textbook example of beating a dead horse.
  5. I was simply chillin’ like a felonup in hurr, you see.” OM: “Wow, that’s very cool.” MD: I’d want to thank you for your time “It was tite and of the hizzleson, to say the least!
  6. MD: I’d want to thank you for your time “Gangsta, you’re a staraight jerk.
  7. My dickhead!” (MD laughs at himself, expecting that others would do so as well.) “Shut the heck up, Mark, you’re not funny” WH says.
  8. Neeeiiigh!” “Peace out, you haters,” MD says.
  9. Tod: I believe that we should have eattacos every night.

Tod:Tacos. Every single night. Sam: No way, dude. Tod: Man, we need to have a cup of soup every single night! Tim: *sigh* Sam: You’re beating a dead horse, aren’t you? Obtain a dead horsemug for the beat.

Definition of beat a dead horse

Also, don’t beat a dead horse. Make an attempt to rekindle enthusiasm in a doomed cause. Politicians who support the old single-taxation concept, for example, are stomping on a dead horse. It was first used figuratively in the 1600s to refer to “anything of no immediate worth,” notably an advance in salary or other debt that had to be worked off (“flogged”) in order to be repaid. EVALUATE YOUR KNOWLEDGE OF AFFECT AND EFFECT VERSUS AFFECT! In effect, this exam will determine whether or not you possess the necessary abilities to distinguish between the terms “affect” and “effect.” Despite the wet weather, I was in high spirits on the day of my graduation celebrations.

Words nearbybeat a dead horse

beaten, beat a dead horse, beat a dead horse, beat a dead horse, beat a way to someone’s door, beat a retreat, beat around the bush, beat back, beat a dead horse Definitions from the American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company owns the copyright for the years 2002, 2001, and 1995. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company is the publisher of this book.

Words related tobeat a dead horse

  • The cartoonist, best known by his pen name Charb, was assassinated on Wednesday. ROMA — The city of Rome is the capital of the Italian Republic. So, what exactly does it take to secure a private encounter with Pope Francis for a Hollywood A-lister? An officer was killed in the line of duty this morning while law enforcement officers hunted for the Charlie Lebdo murderers. No one can declare with absolute confidence whether Castro is dead or alive in the absence of a corpse, even if all evidence point in that way.
  • He overcame his sickness twice, wrote about his experiences with it, and continued to broadcast even when his health was deteriorating. A four-year-old child was brought to tears by the sight of a dead dog that had been pulled from a pond
  • Nowadays, it is the bankrupt who disobeys the law, and it is his overconfident creditors who are jeered and mocked at by their peers. Whenever the Merrill Horse was mentioned, Poindexter’s visage took on a demonic appearance. However, you are wrong in believing that the Merrill Horse is the sole component of the army heading west. During this session of parliament, the well-known legislation banning horse racing and deceptive gambling were approved

Definition of dead horse

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This indicates the grade level of the word based on its difficulty. This indicates the grade level of the word based on its difficulty. the state of being in which something has ceased to be useful or relevant EVALUATE YOUR KNOWLEDGE OF AFFECT AND EFFECT VERSUS AFFECT! In effect, this exam will determine whether or not you possess the necessary abilities to distinguish between the terms “affect” and “effect.” Despite the wet weather, I was in high spirits on the day of my graduation celebrations.

Idiomsabout dead horse

  1. Continue to pursue or attempt to reignite interest in a project or issue that has lost its significance or usefulness
  2. To beat / floga dead horse

Origin ofdead horse

An Americanism that dates back to the 1820s–1830s

Words nearbydead horse

Dead from the neck up, dead hand, deadhead, Dead Heart, dead heat, dead horse, dead in one’s tracks, dead in the sea, dead key, dead languages, dead leg are all terms used to describe people who are dead. Dictionary.com Unabridged Random House, Inc. 2022, based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, Random House, Inc.

Words related todead horse

Payment in arrears; bill; capital; commitment; credit; damage; deficiency; due; indebtedness; responsibility; mortgage; obligation; price tag; receipt; loss; shortfall; albatross; luggage; bite; check

How to usedead horsein a sentence

  • The cartoonist, best known by his pen name Charb, was assassinated on Wednesday. An officer was killed in the line of duty this morning while law enforcement officers hunted for the Charlie Lebdo murderers. No one can declare with absolute confidence whether Castro is dead or alive in the absence of a corpse, even if all evidence point in that way. To be honest, the truth of the situation was that I had to walk out and get on a horse, ride in, and shoot the gun — how difficult could that be, right?
  • In the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the two-state solution is no longer viable. A four-year-old child was brought to tears by the sight of a dead dog that had been pulled from a pond
  • Whenever the Merrill Horse was mentioned, Poindexter’s visage took on a demonic appearance. However, you are wrong in believing that the Merrill Horse is the sole component of the army heading west. During this session of parliament, the well-known legislation banning horse racing and deceptive gambling were approved
  • Four years ago, Hetton’s horse was the first favorite, but it was humiliatingly defeated
  • This year, Hetton’s horse is the second favorite.

Other Idioms and Phrases withdead horse

Definitions from the American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company owns the copyright for the years 2002, 2001, and 1995. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company is the publisher of this book.

What Does Beating a Dead Horse Mean?

It describes the process of exerting effort or concentrating on something that is unachievable, no longer relevant, and no longer essential when you hear or see this term uttered or written. For want of a better term, it depicts the act of squandering one’s time since there is no chance they can achieve and their efforts are unlikely to be worthwhile in the long run. It is frequently used to indicate discussing a topic or issue after it has already been explored in depth or after a conclusion has already been taken on it.

It is vital to note that the expression “beating a dead horse” is most commonly heard in American English.

The wordflogforbeat is used in the British English form of the expression, which means “flogging a dead horse.” Their meanings are same in both cases. Here are some examples of phrases that make use of the phrase “beating a dead horse”:

  • The judge has rendered his decision, and it is now time to go on. If you keep hoping for a different conclusion, you’re merely flogging a dead horse. Making that square peg fit into a round hole is futile
  • Stop wasting your time and energy. Attempting to win back your ex-husband is like pounding a dead horse
  • You’re beating a dead horse trying to get him back. The issue has been discussed several times, Kim
  • There is no need to continue to beat a dead horse
  • I though we had resolved the issue at hand. Why are you insisting on kicking a dead horse in the mouth?
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The Origins of Beating a Dead Horse

As previously stated at the outset of this piece, it is likely that the phrase originated from the concept of physically beating a horse. History has shown that it was permissible for riders to “beat” or smack their horses with a riding crop in order to motivate them to go faster in horse racing, notably around the mid-1800s when the word may have originally been used. While riders are permitted to use whips in horse races nowadays, they are not permitted to use them for the purpose of motivating horses to enhance their pace.

  1. To beat a dead horse in attempt to make it go faster would be a waste of time, wouldn’t you say?
  2. The expression, according to some researchers and experts, really originated earlier, in the 17th century, when a horse represented hard effort and the word “dead horse” was used to refer to something with no contemporary meaning.
  3. He may have been the first person to use the phrase in 1859.
  4. Bright was dissatisfied with his winter reform campaign and rumor had it that he had given up his effort with the exclamation “It was like flogging a dead horse,” according to the reportage.
  5. (Keep in mind that flog is another synonym for beat.) The earliest fully confirmed occurrence of the term, according to some scholars, was in an 1872 article in The Globe and Mail.

Understanding Idioms

An idiom is a phrase or statement that has a specific meaning that cannot be fully grasped by simply looking at the words that make up the term. The meaning of these words and phrases is metaphorical rather than literal, as you have already discovered: they don’t mean what they appear to imply. In spite of the fact that you may have never heard the termidiom, you are most certainly familiar with several idiomatic idioms. Here are just a few of the most often used idioms in today’s language: You’re in a lot of trouble.

  • It’s time to face the music, as they say.
  • The first example might lead one to believe it was portraying a person standing in a bathtub full of hot water, if taken literally.
  • In the same way, rather than being handed a tool for cutting wood, if you get the ax from your employer, it signifies you’re being let go from your job.
  • And when someone has hit the nail on the head, it means that they have received an answer that is absolutely correct or that they have completed a task exactly as it should have been completed.
  • In metaphorical language, it is used to describe a waste of time and effort.

There are several frequent expressions that incorporate the wordhorse, such as “could eat a horse” (as in “could eat a horse while hungry”), “from the horse’s mouth,” “horse of another/different hue,” and “on one’s high horse.” Many more idioms may be found in an idioms dictionary, such as the one provided by The Free Dictionary.

A number of other frequent idioms nowadays seem violent but are not intended to be so, such ascuriosity killed the cat; learn the meanings of many more idioms by visiting this page.

Synonyms for Beating a Dead Horse

You may use a variety of comparable terms and phrases to describe the act of devoting time and energy to something that has little to no prospect of success if you don’t want to use the metaphor “beating a dead horse.” In certain cases, the examples below are near-synonyms, which means that they may not have the exact same meaning as flogging a dead horse, but they do have a meaning that is similar to it and can be used in its stead depending on the situation.

  • Continue to ponder
  • Continue to ponder
  • Harp on
  • Linger over
  • Overwork
  • Rehash
  • Futz around
  • Fritter away
  • Continue to ponder Attempting to push water up a steep hill
  • Slapping the back of your skull against a brick wall It is pointless to water a dead flower or it is pointless to water a dead flower


In this case, the expression refers to the metaphorical rather than literal sense of the phrase “beating a dead horse.” If you’re flogging a dead horse, you’re wasting your time and energy on something that is worthless or ineffective. In other words, you’re squandering your time and energy by pursuing a fruitless endeavor. PS: Are you looking for a large vocabulary? Click here to see a Scrabble cheat sheet with terms like horse and other words that begin with the letter H.

Maggie Cramer

For the past 15 years, I’ve devoted my professional life to words and language, working as a writer, editor, and communications expert, as well as an instructor in the field of language arts. I’m looking forward to learning about everything English with you and The Word Counter! I presently reside in the city of Asheville, in the state of North Carolina. Writing, Literature, and Publishing BFA from Emerson College; Master of Education (MEd) in Secondary English Education from University of Florida; and a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Writing, Literature, and Publishing BFA from Emerson College You may find me on LinkedIn, and you can view my online portfolio by clicking here!

Beating A Dead Horse

Beaten dead horse, also known as flogged dead horse, is an idiom term that is used in comments and forum conversations to suggest that a certain joke or topic has been brought up one or more times beyond its usefulness. The word is also connected with “circle jerks,” or members of a self-contained online group rallying behind hackneyed notions and popular views, and is used to describe this phenomenon.


Wikipedia states that the first recorded usage of the phrase in its current sense was made by British politician and orator John Bright in reference to the Reform Act of 1867, which called for more democratic representation in the House of Commons, in 1867. In a speech outlining his attempt to pique the attention of the Parliament, he compared it to the process of flogging a dead horse in order to get it to pull a load of anything. According to the website Phrases, an email relating the term “beating a dead horse” was uploaded on March 24th, 2000, and stated that the phrase originated with John Bright’s statement regarding Parliament.


Season 6 Episode 1 titled “Jared Has Aides” of the animated television seriesSouth Park was shown on Comedy Central on March 6th, 2002, in which Subway representative Jared Fogle repeatedly beats a dead horse was televised on Comedy Central. To watch the relevant South Park episode, please click here. On the 13th of December, the video game-related webcomic In a comic titled “Product Cycle,” Penny Arcade released a panel depicting a man flogging a dead horse, which was later removed from publication (shown below).

A video named “Beating Dead Horse” was published to YouTube on March 21st, 2006, by YouTuberorbit18, and it contained footage of a player beating a dead horse while playing the role-playing computer game The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (shown below).

When Dilbert’s website was published on the 17th of December, 2007, the webcomic portraying a dead horse being hired for beatings was highlighted (shown below).

Kathy Dishman, a blogger, released a demotivational poster portraying a man sitting on a dead horse on February 14th, 2012, and it quickly went viral (shown below).

Image Macro Series

“Pounding a Dead Horse” is the title of aQuickmemepage that was published on April 4, 2012. The page depicts three LEGOstorm troopers from the science fiction franchiseStar Wars beating a LEGO horse with baseball bats, which was created on April 4, 2012. (shown below). “Give me karma,” the captions would say, after a reference to a hot issue on the social news site Reddit was included in the description. The page got almost 1,900 entries in its first year of operation.

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Both the expressions “beat a dead horse” and “flog a dead horse” refer to the same thing. It is a figure of speech that is defined as a word, collection of words, or phrase that has a figurative meaning that cannot be determined from its literal definition. We will look at the definitions of the phrases beat a dead horse and flog a dead horse, as well as the possible origins of these expressions and some examples of their application in sentence construction. It is incorrect to beat a dead horse or flog a dead horse, since it is to persist in a certain action that is a waste of time or has little prospect of being effective in the first place.

  • If you think about it, it conjures up an image of someone flogging a dying horse in the hopes that it would rise up and draw a wagon.
  • While the idioms “beat a dead horse” and “flog a dead horse” first appeared in common usage in the mid-1800s, many historians think that these phrases originated in sailors’ slang from the 1600s.
  • The term “dead horse” was used to describe this month of pre-paid employment.
  • Beat a dead horse is predominantly an American expression, whereas flog a dead horse is generally a British expression of the same meaning.

“I mean, everything is predicated on the fact that they had until June 30th, 2019 to exit the real estate, and, I think, we don’t want to beat a dead horse now because we need to move on and resolve this issue, but that’s certainly a “Unfortunately, Jeff Sessions is choosing to continue to beat a dead horse to death by attempting to claw his way back into the failing war on drugs,” according to the Signal Tribune.

(Source: The Daily UW) Hill stated that he did not want to beat a dead horse and that he would want to take a step back after bringing the name-change notion to the public’s attention. New Zealand’s The New Zealand Herald reports that

What Does “Don’t Beat a Dead Horse” Mean? When to Use It

A horse is one of the most nimble land-based creatures on the world, and it is also one of the most beautiful. The four-legged, hairy creature symbolizes or is synonymous with speed, strength, attractiveness, and power, among other qualities. However, when a horse is dead or has reached the end of its useful life, it is either permanently disabled or will no longer serve its master as well as it once did. The term “don’t beat a dead horse” refers to the practice of avoiding bringing up a subject that has already been discussed and failed to produce results.

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For more information on the meaning of the idiom, its origins, how it is used in literature (with multiple sample phrases), and a slew of other relevant topics, continue reading this article.

“Don’t Beat a Dead Horse” – Meaning

“Don’t flog a dead horse,” or “don’t beat a dead horse,” is a term that means “don’t put effort into things that will not gain any advantage or that will not demonstrate anything for a positive result.” Or, to put it another way, debating a subject that has previously been discussed extensively and to the satisfaction of all parties concerned is to “beating a dead horse.” The following is another way to express the meaning of the idiom:

  • Investing time and effort in something that has little prospect of succeeding
  • It is the act of attempting to rekindle interest or curiosity in something that has already perished

Though not exactly equivalent with or replacement phrases for the phrase, words such as “belabor,” “harp on,” “dwell upon,” “dwell on,” and other related expressions have meanings that are somewhat close to the “dead horse” idiom.

What Does the Phrase “Dead Horse” Mean?

Any item or concept that is no longer relevant or helpful is referred to as a “dead horse.” The phrase can be used as a stand-alone statement in literature. However, it is most commonly associated with the well-known term. In the military, the word is used to indicate a situation that has been investigated on more than one occasion previously. Generally speaking, the connotation of the term is the same as the symbolic meaning of the phrase. The term “dead horse” can also be used to describe someone who consistently declines invitations to events or social gatherings without providing a valid explanation.

The term “dead horse” refers to people who have passed out owing to excessive alcohol consumption or who do not cooperate during sex and instead just lie on the bed acting dead.

The owner of the item simply wants to be free of the situation and put it behind them.

Horse flesh is a term used to refer to the best components or those that have a high monetary worth on their own. Dog chow is a term used to describe items that are not very important but are also not complete rubbish at the same time.

Origin of the Expression “Don’t Beat a Dead Horse”

John Bright, an English orator and politician, is credited with popularizing the phrase. In March 1859, during a speech in the lower house of the United Kingdom parliament, Lord Elcho stated that Bright was dissatisfied with Elcho’s winter campaign results and compared Elcho’s efforts to “flogging a dead horse.” Bright, on the other hand, did not invent the phrase. The first recorded use of the term dates back to 1872, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, which cites an article in The Globe newspaper about the then-prime minister, William Gladstone, who was unable to achieve success.

The “Horse” Metaphor

The horse racing industry has given birth to or inspired a number of idioms and phrases in the English language. The adage “don’t whip a dead horse” is most likely derived from the sport as well. During horse racing, a whip is used by the rider to “motivate” or “strike” the horse into running faster. The horse is still alive and, as a result, is capable of responding consistently to the jockey’s commands. However, no amount of slapping or coaxing can bring a “dead” horse back to life and enable it to gallop.

Using the Phrase “Don’t Beat a Dead Horse” in Texts

As previously stated, the phrase has been often employed in political situations throughout history. As an illustration:

  • It is pointless to keep flogging a dead horse by requesting another round of vote recounting.

Its use, on the other hand, gradually expanded to other walks of life or arenas of activity, such as public discourse and general dialogues, throughout time. When used informally, the term can be expressed as follows:

  • Don’t go about beating a dead horse because the subject has already been discussed and settled

Please keep in mind that the phrase can be used in texts with or without the word “don’t.” In either case, the phrase suggests “loss of time,” “efforts in vain,” and so on. As previously stated, the words “flogging a dead horse” and “don’t flog a dead horse” are both acceptable alternatives for the idiom. The phrase “flogging” is merely another way of referring to the act of hitting someone. In order to avoid ambiguity, the substitute term is entirely appropriate or will have no effect on the meaning of a statement.

  • Making financial investments in the firm and trying to keep it afloat is pointless. We’re just beating a dead horse
  • I’ve told her she has to start arranging things in order to be more efficient. Given her response to my calls, I’m beginning to wonder that perhaps I was flogging an already defunct horse.

Using Just “Dead Horse” in Texts

When used alone in a text, the word “dead horse” can be used both metaphorically and literally, depending on the context. In other words, it’s possible that the statement is referring to a real horse that has died. However, because “dead horse” has a symbolic connotation as well, it might be used in texts as a standalone phrase while still conveying the sense implied by the idiom “beating a dead horse.” As an illustration: The phrase “dead horse” in the above statement might apply to either an actual horse or an issue that isn’t worth debating.

Here are a few examples of phrases in which the phrase “dead horse” refers to a “oft-discussed issue”:

  • It’s a dead horse, to put it mildly. Would you want to talk about something more relevant for a change
  • Why do you continually bringing up the dead horse when you know that the work and time you put into it will not get us anywhere
  • And

Because “dead horse” may also refer to a person who is not very enthusiastic about attending an event or gathering (as previously indicated), the term might be used in texts to refer to a specific individual. As an illustration:

  • What happened to Tom? He has stated that he would attend the party tonight. I’m assuming he’s playing dead horse once more

Example Sentences with the Term “Don’t Beat a Dead Horse”

It has already been stated that when the “dead horse” term is inserted into writings, it may or may not include the word “don’t.” As a result, each form of the phrase might be used in either of the following sentences:

  • She is working on getting her book published on a regular basis. She’s just pounding a dead horse, in my opinion
  • You’re just beating a dead horse, in trying to get her to come out with us – she doesn’t enjoy coming out late at night
  • And you can keep pressing him to resign and join your business. He is very satisfied with his current position. You shouldn’t beat a dead horse
  • The professor was pounding a dead horse when he told his pupils not to use their smartphones all of the time and that using their phones for a lengthy amount of time may be harmful to them in the long run. We’ll just take a trip the following year. So, please, don’t keep pounding a dead horse by begging me to postpone the plan. What is the point of bringing up concerns that have already been resolved? You’re merely stomping on an already dead horse. The act of comparing a Ferrari with any automobile that costs less than half as much as the Ferrari and advancing the case that the less costly vehicle is the more powerful vehicle of the two is equivalent to flogging a dead horse. Almost everyone has moved on from the situation. You’re the only one who keeps kicking a dead horse in the mud.


People typically “beat a dead horse,” try to resurrect a topic, or bring it up for debate again because they may want the issue to be viewed at from a different perspective than it was previously. However, in order for the resurrection attempt to be effective, other people must understand the point or believe that the opposing viewpoint is worthwhile. It is unlikely that the situation will resurface, particularly if the parties involved have moved on and are preoccupied with other matters. The act of attempting to revive the topic is analogous to the act of “beating a dead horse.” To put it another way, “don’t beat a dead horse” if it has already lost its momentum.

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Beating a dead horse

“Beating a dead horse” is an idiom. Example: Minami: Hello, there, Mariela! Last night, I overheard you chatting about politics with Joyce, and I overheard you telling her to “stop pounding a dead horse.” Imean Despite the fact that I am not well-versed in politics, I cannot see somebody wishing to do something so nasty! Why would she continue to pound a dead horse? That is really bad! Mariela: Minami, you bumbling idiot! “Beating a dead horse” is an idiom used in the United Kingdom. Minami: Really?

What in the world does it all mean?

Minami: Oh, I guess I get what you’re saying.

They are quite perplexing to me!

(This basically means to keep discussing and providing examples about anything until your audience feels sick to their stomachs!

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