flogged that one ...

Douglas G. Wilson douglas at NB.NET
Wed Nov 29 14:55:46 UTC 2000

>Here's one I've never heard, and I thought it might interest some of you.
>Regarding a much-discussed editorial topic hereabouts, a colleague said we'd
>"... flogged that one like a rented mule."

I'm familiar with "We've beaten/flogged [the subject] to death." Also
"We've beaten [the subject] into the ground." All meaning "We've discussed
[the subject] excessively."

I can't find any of these in any of my dictionaries right now. [I don't
have DARE or HDAS; I have a superstition about buying defective or
incomplete books.]

The OED shows the verb "beat" = "discuss" ("obsolete" [?]), and the clearly
related adjective "beaten" = "trite"/"worn".

A possibly related expression (I can't find this one in the dictionaries
either): "flog [a job/task]" = "devote excessive attention/time/effort to
[a job/task]". I've heard/used this in the sense of stretching out a
project (by doing superfluous work rather than by idling), perhaps to avoid
a less pleasant subsequent project, or to ward off a layoff, or to increase
income (if paid by the hour).

-- Doug Wilson

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