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We have a saying in Tagalog:

Aanhin pa ang damo, kung patay na ang kabayo.

which literally translates to English as

What is grass good for, if the horse is already dead.

Basically, the idea is, something (help, benefit, etc.) arrives too late for it to be useful. What is/are the equivalent/s of this saying in English?

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  • 2
    Not quite the same, but similar might be "too little, too late" or "a day late and a dollar short". Jan 14 '20 at 14:13
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    Also similar, possibly closer, might be "closing the barn door after the horse has bolted". Jan 14 '20 at 14:15
  • @JeffZeitlin I think "the stable door".
    – WS2
    Jan 14 '20 at 14:16
  • @WS2 - I've seen both used. Jan 14 '20 at 14:17
  • @JeffZeitlin Reminds me of one of those French faux amis. (étable = cowshed, but écurie = stable).
    – WS2
    Jan 14 '20 at 14:40
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It’s likely that the closest equivalent is “closing the barn (or stable) door after the horse has bolted”.

Other phrases with related meanings would include “a day late and a dollar short” or simply “too little, too late”.

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You could say that an action is simply rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. The mental picture is that this is done as the ship is sinking. It does not match the notion that, earlier, the action might have helped, but does capture the futility.

You can also say that has missed the boat or the train has left the station. The mental picture is that they were too late to board, and lost the opportunity.

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