Idiom that means trying to save something that is beyond saving

Stack Exchange

Question from English Language & Usage on Stack Exchange

It’s on the tip of my tongue.

Example: “Replacing the hard drive of this computer would be [idiom]. It’s going to fail completely soon enough.”

My answer

[Read, comment, and vote on my answer at Stack Exchange]

“Grasping at straws” is probably the best I can think of but I think it is a weak phrase.


  1. A fool’s errand
  2. Herding cats
  3. A Sisyphean task
  4. A Pyrrhic victory (if you accomplish the immediate task)
  5. To win the battle but lose the war


  1. Tilting at windmills, or battling windmills
  2. Banging your head on the wall
  3. Bailing out a barge with a bucket
  4. Biting off more than you can chew (more about the aptitude of the actor than the futility of the task)
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