Beat a Dead Horse (Origin)
What Is the Origin of the Saying "Beat a Dead Horse"?The term "beat a dead horse" means to press on with an issue that has already ended. The original version, which is still the one most commonly used in Britain, is "flog a dead horse."
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- English Proverbs and Idioms Test
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Examples of Use:
- Continuing to argue about it would be like beating a dead horse - there's no point in discussing a topic that has already been settled.
- Bringing up past mistakes won't accomplish anything; it's just flogging a dead horse.
- He kept trying to convince them to change their minds, but it was like beating a dead horse - they had already made up their minds.
- They spent hours discussing the issue, even though it was clear that they were flogging a dead horse and no resolution would be reached.
- She kept revisiting the topic, beating a dead horse and refusing to move on to more productive conversations.
"Flogging a dead horse" first appeared in print in 1859 (evidence) in Hansard. (NB: Hansard is the traditional name of the transcripts of UK Parliamentary debates.)
The Hansard record (Volume 153:1859) covers a debate involving Francis Wemyss-Charteris Douglas (8th Earl of Wemyss, 6th Earl of March), who was also known as "Lord Elcho":
- If the hon. Member for Birmingham [John Bright] had been present, he would have asked the hon. Gentleman [Lord Elcho] whether he was satisfied with the results of his winter campaign. It was notorious that he was not, and a saying was attributed to him that he found he was "flogging a dead horse."