I am wondering if the phrase "waste breath" always indicates wasting time and talking in vain.

Let's say a teacher said to his class: Since you do not understand this grammar rule, I'll have to waste my breath to explain.

My question:

1) Is it proper to use "waste breath" here?

2) If so, does "waste breath" here refer to wasting one's time talking or talking in vain, as the dictionary suggests, or simply mean taking time and effort to talk?

closed as unclear what you're asking by Drew, NVZ, Nathaniel, curiousdannii, John Clifford Apr 15 '16 at 12:02

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  • That pretty much is the meaning, from dictionaries I checked. i.e. Speaking will accomplish nothing. – NVZ Apr 14 '16 at 4:41

1) Improper by situation alone. A teacher must teach, not insult. Such remarks are like a waiter who, after filling a teacup past overflowing, then lays his fault on the cup's size.

2) If not -- so no Q 2.

Note: "Waste breath" is never used, "waste" and "breath" are always separated by some word, usually "my", "of", or "your":

Don't waste your breath.
I won't waste my breath.
It's a waste of breath.
Save your breath.


Don't waste your breath talking to her. She won't listen. You can't persuade me. You're just wasting your breath.


Don't bother trying to change my mind about this, it's a waste of breath! It looks like my whole pitch to the board of directors ended up being a waste of breath.

Note: I wouldn't say "I'll have to waste my breath..."

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