beat the air

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beat the air

To keep doing something despite its apparent pointlessness or futility. There's no way he'll get his progressive agenda through—he's just beating the air.
See also: air, beat

beat the air

Also, beat the wind. Continue to make futile attempts, fight to no purpose. For example, The candidates for office were so much alike that we thought our vote amounted to beating the air . These phrases call up a vivid image of someone flailing away at nothing. [Late 1300s]
See also: air, beat
References in classic literature ?
To choose time, is to save time; and an unseasonable motion, is but beating the air. There be three parts of business; the preparation, the debate or examination, and the perfection.
A bird with a broken wing was beating the air above, reeling, fluttering, circling disabled down, down to the water.
Then a gigantic hand issued from the shade, and fastened on the throat of the captain, who uttered a stifle rattle; his stretched-out arms beating the air, the torch fell and was extinguished in blood.
I was cool no longer; where I had relied on practical direction I was baffled and hindered and driven mad; on my honor believe I was little less for some moments, groaning, cursing, and beating the air with impotent fists - in one of them my poor love's letter crushed already to a ball.
You wanted to make me such, and I am such; but I won't submit no longer; no, I won't, I won't, I won't, I won't!' She was still beating the air against all comers.
When they were right over the middle of the assembly they wheeled and circled about, beating the air with their wings and glaring death into the eyes of them that were below; then, fighting fiercely and tearing at one another, they flew off towards the right over the town.
Some ran furiously to the water's edge, beating the air with frantic gestures, while others spat upon the element, to resent the supposed treason it had committed against their acknowledged rights as conquerors.
Again Mirando's shrill cry of mortal terror had caused them to look back, and there they had seen the most horrible sight--their companion's body flying upwards into the trees, his arms and legs beating the air and his tongue protruding from his open mouth.
Two females, of a dejected appearance, watched by its side, plaintively chanting and beating the air with large grass fans whitened with pipe-clay.
She lifted weakly, turned sharply as if to get out of the battle, burst into flames fore and aft, swept down to the water, splashed into it obliquely, and rolled over and over and came down stream rolling and smashing and writhing like a thing alive, halting and then coming on again, with her torn and bent propeller still beating the air. The bursting flames spluttered out again in clouds of steam.
BaliPure grounds Air Force for maiden win !-- -- Luisa Morales (Philstar.com) - August 21, 2019 - 7:55pm MANILA, Philippines The BaliPure Water Defenders eked out their first win of the Premier Volleyball League season after beating the Air Force Lady Jet Spikers in five sets, 26-24, 16-25, 25-19, 17-25, 17-15, at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan on Wednesday.
Velayati made the remarks a day after Chairman of the Iranian Parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy Commission Alaeddin Boroujerdi said US President Donald Trump's efforts to demonize Iran by accusing the Islamic Republic of supplying ballistic missiles to Yemen's Ansarullah fighters was futile and an example of "beating the air."
The Stipendiary said it seemed as if they were beating the air. He could not accept the witness' evidence, as he appeared not to know what he was talking about.
If by "independence" he means things like a separate currency, our own armed forces, barbed wire and frontier guards along the border with England then he is beating the air because we all know that is not possible for a range of practical reasons.
I watched an invisible bird fly up from her chest, its wings furious, beating the air. Then it was gone.