It’s No Use Flogging A Dead Horse


According to Perplexity, the origin of this most English of sayings is:

The phrase “It’s no use flogging a dead horse” refers to the futility of attempting to revive something that is already dead or beyond revival.

The origins of this idiom can be traced back to the 17th century, when horses played a vital role in transportation, agriculture, and warfare. During this time, horses were valuable commodities, and their well-being was of utmost importance. Tragically, horses would sometimes die due to exhaustion, illness, or injuries sustained in battles.

The earliest known written record of a similar expression is from Richard Brome’s play “The Antipodes,” first performed in 1638, which refers to “a dead horse” in a figurative sense.

The specific phrase “flog a dead horse” appeared in print in 1859 in a report of a UK parliamentary debate, where it was attributed to British politician John Bright.

Over time, the idiom evolved, and variations like “beat a dead horse” also became common. The core meaning, however, remained the same – to describe a futile effort or attempt to revive something that is already beyond hope or repair.