Robert Brindley

Monday, June 02, 2008

The Meaning of Sayings (9)

To Flog A Dead Horse

Meaning, to waste time & energy on something which will have a negative outcome.

Thankfully this 'saying' has nothing to do with beating dead animals!!! It's origin is in the 'Horse Latitudes' 30 degrees either side of the equator, where the subsiding dry air & high pressure results in weak winds.

As the tall ships relied on strong winds, they slowed considerably or even stalled altogether, often taking months to pass through the 'Horse Latitudes'.

The advance wages given to sailors at the time of signing on were known as the 'Dead Horse' & by the time a ship had passed through the Horse Latitudes, these would have been worked off.
So, as sailors were paid by the day, a slow passage was to their benefit with no incentive to make much effort, therefore this period of slow progress in mid ocean became known as 'flogging the dead horse'.


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