What does the idiom "flog a dead horse" mean?

Although the meanings of the words in them do not make any sense when examined one by one, the word groups that are shaped according to the cultural roots of the language and that make sense as a whole are called idioms. flog a dead horse meaning, in what situations is it used?

Meaning of "flog a dead horse"


The idiom 'flog a dead horse' is an expression that is used to describe a situation where someone is wasting their time and energy on a pointless task or activity. It implies that a person is trying to revive something that is dead or already finished, and is also used to describe an activity that has no hope of succeeding. In short, it is an expression used to describe a futile effort.


The origin of the phrase 'flog a dead horse' is unclear. It is thought to have its origins in the mid 19th century, when it was used to refer to a useless or futile endeavor. The phrase may also have roots in a metaphorical use of the verb 'flog', meaning to beat or thrash, combined with the phrase 'dead horse', meaning a job or task that has expired or died out. Alternatively, it is thought to be a reference to horse racing, where horses were whipped in an effort to make them run faster, even after they were dead.


The phrase 'flog a dead horse' is generally used to express criticism of someone who is attempting something that will be fruitless. It can be used in both a literal and figurative sense, to describe a situation where a person is expending time and energy on something which will not succeed. It can also be used to sarcastically describe someone who is being too persistent, or not giving up on a task which is already lost or gone. For example, someone might say, “He's been trying to get that contract for months - he's just flogging a dead horse.”

Example Sentences

  • I don't want you to spend all day on that project - it's a waste of time, you're just flogging a dead horse.
  • I can't believe they're still trying to get a refund from the company, it's like flogging a dead horse.
  • Stop wasting your energy on that, it's pointless - you're flogging a dead horse.

The meanings of the words in the "flog a dead horse" idiom

From Shakespeare to Social Media: The Evolution of English Idioms

English idioms have been around for centuries, with many originating from sources like literature, mythology, and everyday life. Shakespeare, for example, coined many phrases that are still used today, such as "break the ice" and "heart of gold." Over time, new idioms have emerged, with social media and popular culture providing rich sources of inspiration. For instance, the phrase "throwing shade" came into use in the 1990s thanks to ball culture, but has since been popularized by social media.


No comment has been written about flog a dead horse yet, you can write the first comment and share your thoughts with our other visitors.
Leave a Reply