Learn idioms with comprehensive meaning, examples and origin details.


flog a dead horse

flog a dead horse
also, beat a dead horse


  • waste energy on something that has no chance of succeeding
  • waste effort on a lost cause
  • engaging in a fruitless effort
  • attempting to revive interest in something which has died out


  1. He keeps trying to get his manuscripts published, but I think he is flogging a dead horse.
  2. There’s no use trying to keep this business going. We are flogging a dead horse.
  3. I’ve told him numerous times to manage his routine effectively, but I think I’ve just been flogging a dead horse.
  4. You’re flogging a dead horse trying to persuade him to come with us – he hates going out at night.
  5. You keep trying to convince him to join your company, but I think you’re flogging a dead horse. He’s happy where he is.
  6. The teacher was flogging a dead horse when he lectured the students about the dangers of too much technology – they were glued to their smartphones while he spoke.

The phrase first appeared in print in 1859 in a report of a UK parliamentary debate.

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