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German has the very vivid words "auswalzen" / "breitwalzen" for "elaborating on a detail much more than necessary in the given context". Literally it means "roll into a laminar shape".

Is there a reasonably short and similar figurative translation to English?

LEO has roll sth. for "auswalzen", but does not highlight figurative use, and has nothing for "breitwalzen". WordReference.com has "thrash to death", which to my ears is too harsh. "To expound" has also been suggested to me, but I think this also does not hit the spot.

(This question has been asked on german.stackexchange.com first, and it has been suggested to move it here.)

  • None of these is exactly the same, but you might want to look at the words bloviate, long-winded, bombastic, pedantic. Anyway auswalzen seems like a useful word. – Jonah Dec 4 '14 at 11:26
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Not idiomatic, but you could probably, in colloquial conversation, get your meaning across with an almost direct translation, "Wow! He rolled that one out a bit far!"
I wouldn't use it in writing, though.

Your 'thrash to death' is one of many 'death' options that would be common. You can beat, whip, flog, or indeed thrash, a subject to death.

There is the very common "flogging a dead horse" for someone arguing a point long after it was worth the effort.

To a native speaker, who would be completely familiar with all the 'death' idioms, you could actually intentionally twist the expression, to 'he beat that idea into submission' or 'he worked that one over, & some" - still using 'apparent violence' to the subject.

One I like, but is not yet common, though I'm working hard to promote it ;-) is
"[he kept that subject going] well beyond its amuse-by date" [ref: sell-by date, stamped on all food products]

  • 1
    I'm a native US speaker and have never heard "flogging a dead horse." The typical phrase is "beating a dead horse" – Jonah Dec 4 '14 at 11:17
  • probably a UK/US difference. It's definitely flogging in Br Eng Am NGRAM & Br NGRAM – Tetsujin Dec 4 '14 at 11:21
  • From that, it seems beating only recently took over from flogging in the US, but is gaining popularity both sides of the pond. – Tetsujin Dec 4 '14 at 11:24
  • Interesting. I would add that I think I have seen "flogging" in writing, but can't recall ever hearing it in speech. Indeed, to my ear "flogging" in speech would have an old-fashioned, formal air that would make the speaker sound... well, kind of British :) – Jonah Dec 4 '14 at 11:30
  • To put forward a slice of personal philosophy, I get the impression it's gaining in popularity after the general decline in horses in everyday life; to such an extent that when someone decided to use 'beat' instead of 'flog' they did so because fewer people would even understand the word flog… including that coiner, as it is not even synonymous with flog, which needs a whip, specifically. SO it's not only been watered down, but the original intent has been lost. Whoever in their right mind would beat a horse, dead or alive? – Tetsujin Dec 4 '14 at 12:13

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