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1. A veteran of some activity or profession (not necessarily the military) who has a wealth of experience going through various trials and tribulations. I know she's a little eccentric, but Janet is an warhorse in this firm—she's been through more trying court cases than anyone else here. The president's pick for Secretary of State is an old war horse of international trade.
2. A performance or dramatic work, especially a musical, that is widely known and reliably popular due to how long or frequently it has been performed. The announcement that the old warhorse was being revived for a run on Broadway sent a collective cheer across the nation. The theater has a few warhorses that it brings out once or twice a year that it knows will always fill seats.
See also: warhorse
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
a performance piece that is performed often. (*Typically: be ~; become ~; perform ~; play ~.) The symphony orchestra played a few old warhorses and then some ghastly contemporary stuff that will never again see the light of day.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
n. a tough old thing, person, or idea. What time does the old warhorse’s train get in, and how long is she staying this time?
McGraw-Hill's Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions Copyright © 2006 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.
warhorse, a (an old)
An experienced veteran; also, a reliably popular attraction. This term originated in the mid-seventeenth century, when it literally meant a battle-scarred military charger. By the nineteenth century it had been transferred to experienced officers, such as the Confederate General James Longstreet, who was nicknamed the War Horse, as well as to veterans of political and other struggles. Using the second meaning, in 1990 a New York Times music critic wrote, “The first half of the orchestral program consisted of warhorses.”
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer