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(you) can't fight city hall
You cannot defeat or prevail over a bureaucratic system or its rules. You might as well pay those parking tickets now because you'll never win in court. You can't fight city hall, after all.
go fight city hall
One cannot defeat or prevail over a bureaucratic system or its rules (despite the connotation of the phrase as an encouragement of action). Good luck fighting those parking tickets—you might as well go fight city hall!
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
(You) can't fight city hall.
Fig. There is no way to win in a battle against a bureaucracy. Bill: I guess I'll go ahead and pay the tax bill. Bob: Might as well. You can't fight city hall. Mary: How did things go at your meeting with the zoning board? Sally: I gave up. Can't fight city hall.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
can't fight City Hall
Unable to overcome bureaucratic rules, as in Brad couldn't get a permit without going through channels-you can't fight City Hall! This term transfers the seat of city government to a more general sense of bureaucracy in any sphere. [Mid-1800s]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
You can’t fight city hall
sent. You cannot fight a bureaucracy. You can’t fight city hall. Pay the parking ticket and forget it.
McGraw-Hill's Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions Copyright © 2006 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.
can't fight City Hall, one/you/they
An ordinary person cannot overcome bureaucracy. The term is American in origin, for it is mainly in the United States that the seat of a city government is called City Hall (and has been since the late seventeenth century). The idea of combating the city bureaucracy is believed to date from the nineteenth century, when Tammany Hall was a powerful political machine that controlled the New York Democratic Party and, in effect, the city government.
you can't fight City Hall
See can't fight city hall.
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
go fight city hall
The futility of challenging entrenched politicians or establishment. Although sounding like a call to action, the phrase means that any effort to succeed against bureaucracy is doomed to failure. It was popularized, although not coined, in the book Go Fight City Hall by Ethel Rosenberg, who with her husband Julius was later executed after being convicted of spying for Russia.
Endangered Phrases by Steven D. Price Copyright © 2011 by Steven D. Price