The idiom "beating a dead horse" means to continue discussing or pursuing a topic or issue that has already been resolved or is no longer relevant. It suggests that the effort is futile because there is no chance of changing the outcome or achieving anything more by doing so. The expression encompasses wasting time on something with no chance of succeeding or attempting something that is impossible.

Imagine a group of friends planning a vacation. They have already chosen a destination, booked their flights, and decided on the activities they want to do. However, one person keeps bringing up different destination options, suggesting new activities, and asking everyone to reconsider their choices. At this point, the plans are already set, and the discussion about changing them is unnecessary. In this situation, the person suggesting changes is "beating a dead horse" because the decisions have been made, and further discussion is not productive. The friend is continuously talking about a topic that has already been closed and decided.

The informal expression "beat a dead horse" is used in the US, but the UK has its own version, which is "flog a dead horse." The meaning is the same and is used in informal conversations much like "beat a dead horse."

Example sentences

  1. During the meeting, she kept bringing up the same issue repeatedly, as if she didn't realize we had already made a decision. She was really beating a dead horse.
  2. I understand you have concerns about the project, but constantly revisiting the same problems is like beating a dead horse. Let's move forward with the solutions we've agreed upon.
  3. His attempts to convince us to change the travel itinerary were like beating a dead horse because we had already booked our flights and accommodations.
  4. The teacher reminded the students that the deadline for the assignment had passed and that discussing it further would be like beating a dead horse.
  5. The manager had to stop the team from revisiting past mistakes and focus on finding solutions instead of beating a dead horse.
  6. We've already resolved the issue with the software, so there's no point in beating a dead horse by discussing it in every meeting.
  7. My friend kept complaining about the restaurant's service even after we had finished our meal. It felt like he was beating a dead horse.
  8. The committee spent hours debating the color of the office walls, but it was clear they were just beating a dead horse when they should have been discussing more important matters.
  9. After the decision was made to relocate the office, the constant debate about the move felt like beating a dead horse.
  10. Bringing up his past mistakes during the argument was like beating a dead horse; it didn't help resolve the current issue.

Want to sound like a native speaker?

Engram’s AI-powered grammar checker makes your English sound like a native speaker’s, suggesting natural English expressions on top of fixing grammar, spelling, punctuation, word order, and vocabulary.

Free Grammar Checker
Check your grammar, spelling, punctuation, and word usage errors with Engram’s free online grammar checker using AI


beat a dead horse
1. to waste effort on something when there is no chance of succeeding: 2. to…
Definition of BEAT A DEAD HORSE
to keep talking about a subject that has already been discussed or decided; to waste time and effort trying to do something that is impossible… See the full definition