Linked Questions

0
votes
2answers
928 views

Saying for not doing something because it is futile [duplicate]

Is there such a saying? Futile may be either because it will fail or because it is unnecessary / already taken care of. I considered: too many chefs spoil the broth and It's like carrying coals to ...
87
votes
29answers
22k views

Is there an American English equivalent of the British idiom “carrying coals to Newcastle”?

I'm an American living in the Netherlands who is learning Dutch. There's an idiom in Dutch that describes performing a needless/futile activity, "water naar de zee dragen," which literally translates ...
50
votes
10answers
7k views

Idiom: People caring about minor stuff while something terrible is happening

Imagine a situation in which the whole place is on fire, a bomb is about to explode, everyone is running for their lives and someone is checking his looks on the mirror... pretty inappropriate for the ...
34
votes
7answers
12k views

An English idiom for “solve a problem that has been solved”?

In Polish, and I believe in a number of other European languages, there is an idiomatic expression which translates to "to force a door which is already open". It is used to describe a situation when ...
12
votes
12answers
8k views

Is there any idiom about the problems so bad that cannot be solved? [closed]

Do we have any idiom in English stating such a concept? "the problem got so bad/complex that it cannot be solved anymore"
11
votes
7answers
4k views

What's a good phrase for “refining a process which is hopelessly broken”?

I'm looking for a turn of phrase to describe a situation where the powers that be wish to continue making small improvements to a process which, due to deep-rooted flaws, will never be close to ...
9
votes
14answers
30k views

A word or phrase for 'Holy grail' (a goal impossible to achieve)

I am looking for a word or phrase that means "a long sought out goal that seems impossible to achieve" but without any religious connotations. Any suggestions? My intended usage is as follows: The ...
7
votes
8answers
43k views

What is an alternative (more positive) analogy to “beating a dead horse”?

I'm looking for an analogy for my repeated attempts to revive interest in a project. The phrase beating a dead horse almost fits the bill, but a dead horse refers to a subject that is no longer ...
8
votes
7answers
19k views

Phrase which describes falsely improving something

Is there an aphorism or proverb in English which describes attempting to improve something fundamentally flawed by dressing it with a lot of ornament?
10
votes
9answers
1k views

English equivalent for this German term “Salzamt”?

In Austria, we sometimes jokingly say: Beschwerden ans Salzamt! Complaints to the Bureau of Salt meaning that it is not possible to appeal a decision, or that it is simply useless to complain ...
3
votes
3answers
24k views

Meaning of “herding the cats”

What is the meaning of the phrase herding the cats? I've found one description on Wikipedia but it is not clear enough.
2
votes
2answers
11k views

Idiom to describe something that has little to no effect?

I'm looking for an idiom to describe something that has a negligible effect. The only similar question I found here was: An idiom meaning someone's doing something useless and has no result at ...
1
vote
3answers
520 views

Idiom Question: “And no money is spent by the dead.”

I'm actually a native English speaker that can't seem to figure this one out, nor can I find it online. Unfortunately, I can't really give context: it's in pretty convoluted academic writing in a very ...
8
votes
4answers
1k views

A phrase for when one is reduced to quibbling on unimportant details having had to give up significant ground

Is there a popular phrase or idiom to capture the following very particular scenario? Person A and person B are arguing over something. Person A repeatedly gives ground to B until the argument becomes ...
4
votes
5answers
889 views

English equivalent to Dutch “Mopping while the tap is running”?

There is a great phrase in Dutch that translates roughly as "Mopping the floor while the tap is running". I.e. working to fix a problem but having no impact and not even able to keep up. Is there an ...

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