Chase one’s own tail

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Chase one’s own tail is an idiom that doesn’t seem to have become popular until the mid-twentieth century. We will examine the meaning of the idiomatic phrase chase one’s own tail, where it came from, and some examples of its use in sentences.

To chase one’s own tail means to do something futile, be be very busy doing something that will not lead to any achievement. Someone who chases his own tail is vigorously doing something that will not lead to any type of success. The phrase to chase one’s own tail is derived from the action of a dog chasing his tail–it is a pointless exercise that ends in either no conclusion or the conclusion of the dog catching his own tail, which is useless. Related phrases are chases one’s own tail, chased one’s own tail, chasing one’s own tail.


“When you get happy with a product, you can chase your own tail trying to perfect it,” he says. (The Corvallis Advocate)

If so, according to Washington Post journalist Brigid Schulte, you are in tune with the rest of the Western world, where the greatest privilege seems to be the right to chase your own tail until you drop dead. (The Daily Mail)

“In effect, he was chasing his tail in relation to his finances — he had some very significant loans with some crippling interest — to keep his head above water,” his barrister Daniel Caruana told the court. (The Brisbane Times)

And they are super proud, so it’s a ridiculous thing, it’s like chasing my own tail, you know? (The Chicago Tribune)