Nearby words

  1. horrors,
  2. hors concours,
  3. hors d'oeuvre,
  4. hors de combat,
  5. horsa,
  6. horse around,
  7. horse balm,
  8. horse bean,
  9. horse block,
  10. horse brass


Origin of horse

before 900; (noun) Middle English, Old English hors; cognate with Old Norse hross, Dutch ros, German Ross (Middle High German ros, Old High German hros); (v.) Middle English horsen to provide with horses, Old English horsian, derivative of the noun

Related formshorse·less, adjectivehorse·like, adjectiveun·der·horse, verb (used with object), un·der·horsed, un·der·hors·ing.

Can be confusedhoarse horse

dead horse


something that has ceased to be useful or relevant.

Origin of dead horse

An Americanism dating back to 1820–30 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for beat a dead horse



a domesticated perissodactyl mammal, Equus caballus, used for draught work and riding: family EquidaeRelated adjective: equine
the adult male of this species; stallion
wild horse
  1. a horse (Equus caballus) that has become feral
  2. another name for Przewalski's horse
  1. any other member of the family Equidae, such as the zebra or ass
  2. (as modifier)the horse family
(functioning as plural) horsemen, esp cavalrya regiment of horse
a narrow board supported by a pair of legs at each end, used as a frame for sawing or as a trestle, barrier, etc
a contrivance on which a person may ride and exercise
a slang word for heroin
mining a mass of rock within a vein of ore
nautical a rod, rope, or cable, fixed at the ends, along which something may slide by means of a thimble, shackle, or other fitting; traveller
chess an informal name for knight
informal short for horsepower
(modifier) drawn by a horse or horsesa horse cart
a horse of another colour or a horse of a different colour a completely different topic, argument, etc
be on one's high horse or get on one's high horse informal to be disdainfully aloof
flog a dead horse See flog (def. 6)
hold one's horses to hold back; restrain oneself
horses for courses a policy, course of action, etc modified slightly to take account of specific circumstances without departing in essentials from the original
the horse's mouth the most reliable source
to horse! an order to mount horses


(tr) to provide with a horse or horses
to put or be put on horseback
(tr) to move (something heavy) into position by sheer physical strength
Derived Formshorseless, adjectivehorselike, adjective

Word Origin for horse

Old English hors; related to Old Frisian hors, Old High German hros, Old Norse hross

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for beat a dead horse
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with beat a dead horse

beat a dead horse

Also, flog a dead horse. Try to revive interest in a hopeless issue. For example, Politicians who favor the old single-tax idea are beating a dead horse. From the 1600s on the term dead horse was used figuratively to mean “something of no current value,” specifically an advance in pay or other debt that had to be worked (“flogged”) off. [Second half of 1800s]

dead horse

see beat a dead horse.


In addition to the idioms beginning with horse

  • horse around
  • horse of a different color, a
  • horse sense
  • horse trading

also see:

  • back the wrong horse
  • beat a dead horse
  • cart before the horse
  • change horses in midstream
  • charley horse
  • dark horse
  • eat like a bird (horse)
  • from the horse's mouth
  • hold one's horses
  • if wishes were horses
  • look a gift horse in the mouth
  • on one's high horse
  • war horse
  • wild horses couldn't drag
  • work like a beaver (horse)
  • you can lead a horse to water
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.