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Beat a dead horse...

Posted by Victoria S Dennis on July 17, 2008 at 07:23

In Reply to: Beat a dead horse... posted by Aram on July 17, 2008 at 07:08:

: What does the following expression mean?

: "Never let it be said that I didn't beat a dead horse."

It's a reference to "flogging a dead horse". However much you whip a dead horse, you can't make it get up and go anywhere, so this is a proverbial phrase for futile effort - especially trying to revive interest in a worn-out topic or idea. The topic or idea is a "dead horse" which someone is beating to try to make it get up and move.
There is a story circulating the internet, and some of the more rubbishy "phrase origins" books, that the phrase is something to do with sailors' wages. This is an invention of CANOE (the Campaign to Ascribe Nautical Origins to Everything) and should be ingnored. The obvious meaning is the real one. (VSD)