A significant part of the figurative expression, still used in the modern Russian language, its roots date back to more ancient times and, therefore, use words that are rarely used in everyday speech. One example of such expression is the phrase "dead poultices".

The literal meaning of the expression

A poultice is a legacy term that is in everyday Russian speech earlier was used to refer to hot compress. One of the variants of this option medical procedures is the insertion of damp hot compress. As is known, this method is quite effective in cases where it is necessary to provide local warming of the affected area of the body. For example, it is often used when the occurrence of colds, including sore throat, inflammation of the bronchi and similar situations.

In addition, the term "poultice" was used to refer to dry hot compress. It did, for example, using hot sand or ash. In addition to colds, this kind of poultice is used for relieving symptoms of neuralgia, sciatica and for other similar health problems.

The figurative sense of the expression

It is obvious that all of these methods of applying poultices could be effective as a therapy only under the relatively weak intensity of the disease. In case, if the patient's condition inspired grave fears poultice should be applied only in the complex therapy, and even better to abandon its use in favor of more effective drugs.

Idiomatic expression "dead poultices" is a kind of lexical device, designed to show the incompatibility of efforts compared with the scale of the problem: because the use of such a gentle method as a poultice against the person who has already died will not have therapeutic effects. Thus, the expression "dead poultices" is used in two main cases. The first of them is the need to show the futility of the action undertaken, that is, to make it clear that they will not lead to the desired result.

The second case is the use of this expression - a demonstration of the uselessness of the action or subject from the point of view of the object to which they are intended: it is obvious that the person who died no longer needs any treatment, the more that inefficient. In this case, synonymous with the idiom in question can serve as another figurative expression - "as a fifth leg to a dog".