Monday, February 16, 2009


There are claims that the phrase originates in 17th century slang, where a "_____ ______" was work that was paid for in advance, e.g. "His land 'twas sold to pay his debts; All went that way, for a ____________, as one would say." Unfortunately, the Smythe quotation is a red herring. He was simply referring to what was already known as the "____ ______ month", or the month of no pay, and how difficult it was to get work out of the men during the _____ _____ month. This use of '_____ ________' to refer to pay that was issued before the work was done was an allusion to using one's money to buy a useless thing (metaphorically, " a _____________"). Most men paid in advance apparently either wasted the money on drink or other such vices or used it to pay debts.

1 comment:

patti said...

Answer is "Dead Horse".

"flogging a dead horse"
"beating a dead horse"