General Question

flo's avatar

When does " Closing the barn door after the horse has bolted " not apply?

Asked by flo (12974points) June 23rd, 2012

What do you think of that idiom? Do you find people use it too often?

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16 Answers

6rant6's avatar

I think maybe that was a question that lost relevancy twenty years ago.
What she said.

athenasgriffin's avatar

Personally, I’ve never heard it. Is it something similar to “Crying over spilled milk?”

Trying to fix a problem after it has already occurred is only natural, I guess, if useless.

Bill1939's avatar

It is like the old adage, “There is no accounting for taste, said the sparrow.” Its meaning was obvious before horseless carriages dominated the roads. Of course it is seldom in use today, since few people are likely to be familiar with the connotation. Most might guess what your adage means, but how many people know that sparrows would follow horses to eat the grains that passed unaffected through their digestive track and were present in manure they left behind?

Coloma's avatar

When the horses escape and the mountain lion is still in the barn with you.

gailcalled's avatar

I have heard and used this expression all my life. Its meaning is clear; taking action too late.

It doesn’t seem obscure or obsolete.

I don’t know what using it too often means.

There are several versions;

“Locking the barn door after the horse has been stolen” is what I hear often

Coloma's avatar

@gailcalled Yep, it’s not obsolete to the older generation (s) . lol

Adagio's avatar

I like this phrase actually and like @gailcalled I have heard it all my life and always thought the meaning very clear, I don’t think it is a phrase that would ever become outdated despite the fact that most people don’t own a barn, or a horse these days.

augustlan's avatar

I’ve also heard it all my life, but have never thought it was overused. There are many circumstances where the saying would not apply, but I’m not really sure what you’re looking for, here.

LuckyGuy's avatar

It’s like backing up your hard drive after the directory’s been corrupted.

flo's avatar

I mean people use it when they feel hopeless or not optimistic enough. Like imagine saying that during the decades when people could hardly go anywhere without being subjected to other people cigarette smoke. “Everybody smokes now, it is impossible to make…..(name of a state) friendly to non-smokers”. Trying to change it is like locking the door after the horses have bolted”

gailcalled's avatar

It’s an axiom that one uses often while feeling neither hopeless nor pessimistic. It is descriptive.

@flo: Personally, I would not use it in the example you cite since everyone does not smoke now and it is not impossible to change the non-smoking regulations.

augustlan's avatar

I’ve never heard it used in a hopeless or pessimistic way, I don’t think. If anything, I’d say it’s often used sarcastically. “Oh, now that you’ve wrecked the car you want to buy insurance? A bit like closing the barn door after the horse has gone, don’t you think?”

flo's avatar

Okay @gailcalled . ” ...since everyone does not smoke now and it is not impossible to change the non-smoking regulations.”,That is my point ” I was giving an example of someone misapplying it ”during the decades…” so now meaning then.

@augustlan, I was asking people to give examples of when they heard it misapplied.

augustlan's avatar

@flo Oh. I don’t think I’ve ever heard it misapplied.

flo's avatar

@augustlan I keep hearing misapplied words and expressions, sayings…

Kayak8's avatar

I think this one still resonates for those who live in rural areas, even today (not just in horse and buggy days).

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