close the stable door after the horse has bolted

close the stable door after the horse has bolted

To try to prevent or rectify a problem after the damage has already been done. It isn't worth replacing the oil filter on the engine now—you can't close the stable door after the horse has bolted.
See also: after, bolt, close, door, horse, stable

close the stable door after the horse has bolted

BRITISH or

close the barn door after the horse has bolted

AMERICAN
If someone's action is closing the stable door after the horse has bolted, it is too late because the thing it is designed to prevent has already happened. It is nice to see the water company offering a reward to catch the fish killers, even though it might look like closing the stable door after the horse has bolted. People have been complaining about a strong smell of gas for seven years. This is closing the barn door after the horse has bolted. Note: This expression is often varied. For instance, you can use shut instead of close, and words such as gone or escaped instead of bolted. The children should have been vaccinated earlier. It seems like they are shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted. Note: People sometimes just say close the stable door or close the barn door. Journalists exposed the fraud, since when the regulators have been scuttling to close the stable door.
See also: after, bolt, close, door, horse, stable

shut/lock/close the stable door after the horse has ˈbolted

(British English) (American English shut, etc. the barn door after the horse has eˈscaped) take action to prevent something bad from happening after it has already happened: Last week all their silver was stolen; this week they’re putting in a burglar alarm! That’s really shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted.
References in periodicals archive ?
And, in a close the stable door after the horse has bolted operation, the government attempted to sue Mittal in the High Court to recover the clean-up costs.