beat a dead horse

Idioms & Phrases

beat a dead horse

Also, flog a dead horse. Try to revive interest in a hopeless issue. For example, Politicians who favor the old single-tax idea are beating a dead horse. From the 1600s on the term dead horse was used figuratively to mean "something of no current value," specifically an advance in pay or other debt that had to be worked ("flogged") off. [Second half of 1800s]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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