wrestle with a pig: Idiom Meaning and Origin

What does ‘wrestle with a pig’ mean?

The idiom "wrestle with a pig" means to engage in a futile or pointless argument or struggle, often resulting in getting dirty or being dragged into the mud.

Idiom Explorer

Epic Struggles: Confronting Swine

The idiom "wrestle with a pig" is a commonly used expression in American English. It is a figurative phrase that describes engaging in a futile or pointless argument with an unreasonable or irrational person. The idiom paints a vivid picture of wrestling with a dirty and stubborn animal that cannot be defeated or reasoned with. It conveys the idea that such conflicts are not only unproductive but also unpleasant.

The origin of this idiom can be traced back to the behavior of actual pigs. Pigs are notorious for their love of rolling around and wallowing in mud and filth. In a literal sense, wrestling with a pig is a messy and fruitless endeavor. It is impossible to overpower the strong and agile pig without getting covered in mud. This notion of futility and messiness has been metaphorically applied to arguments or conflicts with unreasonable people.

When using the idiom "wrestle with a pig," it is important to note that it does not necessarily involve physical confrontation. Instead, it emphasizes engaging in a verbal or intellectual battle with a stubborn, irrational, or illogical individual. The idiom suggests that attempting to reason or argue with such a person is a lost cause, leading to frustration and futility.

The pig's struggle to wrestle was a challenge.

Furthermore, the idiom "wrestle with a pig" highlights the importance of choosing one's battles wisely. It serves as a reminder that not all disagreements or conflicts are worth engaging in, especially when the other party is unwilling to listen or consider alternative perspectives. Instead, it encourages individuals to focus their energy on more meaningful and productive endeavors rather than wasting time on futile arguments or conflicts.

The idiom "wrestle with a pig" is closely related to the expression "fight a losing battle." Both idioms capture the idea of engaging in a conflict that cannot be won. Whether it's wrestling with a stubborn animal or fighting a losing battle, both phrases convey a sense of futility and frustration. They serve as reminders to choose our battles wisely and to avoid investing time and effort into conflicts that will lead to no positive outcome.

Another related idiom is "tug of war." While it may seem unrelated at first, the concept of a tug of war actually shares some similarities with wrestling with a pig. When engaged in a tug of war, two teams pull on opposite ends of a rope, each trying to overpower the other. Similarly, when wrestling with a pig, it often feels like an ongoing struggle to overpower the stubbornness and irrationality. Both idioms convey a sense of conflict and the difficulty of achieving a desired outcome.

The idiom "in a pig's patoot" is another expression related to wrestling with a pig. While less commonly used, it serves to emphasize the challenging and frustrating nature of the situation. The phrase "in a pig's patoot" means being in a difficult or unpleasant situation. When wrestling with a pig, one can imagine being stuck in a messy and fruitless endeavor, much like being in a pig's patoot.

The idiom "wrestle with a pig" conveys the futility and pointlessness of engaging in arguments or conflicts with unreasonable or irrational individuals. It encourages individuals to choose their battles wisely and to prioritize more meaningful and productive endeavors. The related idioms "fight a losing battle," "tug of war," and "in a pig's patoot" further support the idea of futility and highlight the challenging and frustrating nature of such situations. These idioms serve as reminders to approach conflicts with rationality and to avoid investing time and energy in pointless arguments or conflicts.

Example usage

Examples of how the idiom "wrestle with a pig" can be used in a sentence:

  1. Despite his best efforts, John found himself wrestling with a pig when trying to engage in a political debate on social media.
  2. She realized that arguing with her unreasonable neighbor would be a pointless endeavor as it would only result in wrestling with a pig.
  3. Instead of wasting time wrestling with a pig, Sarah decided to walk away from the toxic conversation and maintain her peace of mind.

More "Metaphors" idioms