The Origin of Beating A Dead Horse

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Livius-Beating A Dead Horse.gif

The "Beating A Dead Horse" smiley has made its way into pop culture, and can be found on forums and message boards everywhere. And why not? It's a very useful smiley.

So let's discuss who made it and why...

Although it looks like one of Fool's smileys, it is actually not his. The smiley in question was actually made way back in Feb 4 2005,[1] by an artist from deviantART known as livius. She made it one day after receiving "a groundswell of requests"[2] on her forum for a "Beating A Dead Horse" emote, and it was also the first emoticon she ever made.[3]

At the time, it sparked a lot of controversy and complaints from Animal Cruelty activists and people not familiar with the expression. In fact, people were STILL commenting on it even 3 years later. In 2008, having had enough of the negative comments, it sparked this angry response from her in her dA journal.[4]

If one more person lectures me about animal abuse in the comments on my Beating a Dead Horse emoticon, I swear to Harold my head is going to explode.

I need a "It's just an expression, people, get the fug over yourselves" stamp. Please, I beg of you. Assuage my agony. It doesn't have to be in those words. It just has to convey that message to keep me sane.

And possibly to link future such commentors to because I don't think I can stand to answer them in complete sentences anymore.

The ironic thing about the whole situation was that some commenters were posting their outrage over such a "gross", "disgusting" and "cruel" image, without reading the comments explaining the idiom. And by doing so their comments were, in fact, beating a dead horse... :D

So there you have it! The Origin of Beating A Dead Horse!

BTW livius no longer creates smileys anymore, however all of her art can be found on her deviantART page.


  1. ^ Beating A Dead Horse.
  2. ^ livius, (2006-01-27). Beating A Dead Horse
  3. ^ livius, (2007-06-10). Beating A Dead Horse
  4. ^ livius, (2008-02-10) dA journal Urge to Kill... Rising. Again.
Article Information
Author: BradLee
Date Published: Article has not been published yet
Other Contributors: None
Last Modified: August 9, 2015

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