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Reinvent the wheel

  • Reinvent the wheel is an idiom that may not be as old as you think. An idiom is a word, group of words or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal meaning. We will examine the definition of the phrase reinvent the wheel, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.

    To reinvent the wheel means to waste one’s time working on creating something that has already been created by someone else, or trying to solve a problem that has already been solved by someone else. The idea is that the wheel referred to in this idiom is an invention that already exists, so expending resources on a solved problem is a waste of effort. Most often, the idiom is used as an admonishment against wasting time and effort. The term reinvent the wheel dates back to the 1970s, and was often used as a business and advertising metaphor. Related phrases are reinvents the wheel, reinvented the wheel, reinventing the wheel. 

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    Examples

    Certainly it’s not easy to develop a street vending policy that will please everyone, but city leaders don’t need to reinvent the wheel here. (The Los Angeles Times)

    But new opportunities have brought with them new needs, which have our smaller Jewish organizations constantly reinventing the wheel, doing a range of activities they’re not good at and are not interested in, just to make it possible to start work on their missions. (The Jewish News of Northern California)

    “Let’s also hope that the new Government doesn’t reinvent the wheel but builds upon the work of the group chaired by William Madeiros.” (The Royal Gazette)

    “Those are extremely beneficial because at the end of 10 years, we will have had a system that has been upgraded throughout that period which would save us from having to reinvent the wheel and do it all again,” Brown said. (
    The Ottawa Herald)

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