drive a coach and horses through

drive a coach and horses through (something)

To expose the flaws in something, such as a statement, argument, or belief. Primarily heard in UK. The suspect had said he wasn't there that night but then drove a coach and horses through that idea with today's contradictory statement.
See also: and, coach, drive, horse, through

drive a coach and horses through something

Fig. to expose weak points or "holes" in an argument, alibi, or criminal case by [figuratively] driving a horse and carriage through them. (Formal. Emphasizes the large size of the holes or gaps in the argument.) The barrister drove a horse and carnage through the witness's testimony. The opposition will drive a coach and horses through the wording of that government bill.
See also: and, coach, drive, horse, through

drive a coach and horses through

make something entirely useless or ineffective. British
An early example of this idiom is found in this statement by the Irish lawyer Stephen Rice ( 1637–1715 ): ‘I will drive a coach and six horses through the Act of Settlement’. Early versions of the phrase also refer to a space big enough to turn a coach and six (or four ) (i.e. horses) in, but the context, following Rice's declaration, is very often that of rendering a law or regulation ineffective.
1997 Spectator A coach and horses was driven through one of the guiding principles of American statecraft.
See also: and, coach, drive, horse, through
References in classic literature ?
Dixon, a young man, rich and agreeable, almost as soon as they were acquainted; and was eligibly and happily settled, while Jane Fairfax had yet her bread to earn.
Crawford exactly what a young heated fancy imagines to be necessary for happiness, you resolve to refuse him at once, without wishing even for a little time to consider of it, a little more time for cool consideration, and for really examining your own inclinations; and are, in a wild fit of folly, throwing away from you such an opportunity of being settled in life, eligibly, honourably, nobly settled, as will, probably, never occur to you again.
But we had repetitions of church and prayer-meetings; and so, of course, we were just as eligibly situated as we could have been any where.
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