Banging Your Head Against a Wall – Meaning, Origin and Usage

Are you tired of repeating yourself every single day? Maybe you have worked hard to reach a goal but just can’t seem to get there?

When was the last time you were so frustrated that you just wanted to bang your head against the wall? We've all been there.

When something feels impossible, or we can't seem to make any progress, it's tempting to give up and feel defeated.

Let’s discuss the phrase’s origin, meaning, and much more you need to know about this phrase.

This post unpacks the meaning and origin of this expression.


It can be both a literal and figurative expression. When used literally, it means to hit one's head against a hard surface. It can result in pain, bruising, or even injury.

When used figuratively, it means to keep doing something even though it's not working or is unlikely to work.

It can lead to frustration, anger, and even despair.

Banging one's head against a wall is often seen as a sign of frustration. When someone is banging their head against a wall, they may feel overwhelmed, hopeless, or trapped.

They may feel stuck in a situation and don't know how to get out. Banging their head against the wall.

Example Usage

“I've been trying to fix this broken chair for an hour, but it's like banging my head against a wall”.

“I know you're upset about the situation, but banging your head against a wall isn't fixing anything”.

“After weeks of unsuccessfully trying to lose weight, I finally realized that I was banging my head against a wall”.

“Trying to get you to understanding my point of view leaves me banging my head against the wall”.


The first known use of this phrase was in the early 1500s. It's unclear how famous the phrase was then, but it was likely used sparingly.

The phrase began to gain popularity in the mid-1900s and is now used worldwide.

One of the first time it was seen in print was in the Bibliotheca Eliot in 1542, but it was used well before that publication.

Phrases Similar to Banging Your Head Against a Wall

If you're feeling like you're banging your head against a wall, here are some other phrases you might use to describe the feeling:

  • “Beating a dead horse" means to continue doing something even though it's not working.
  • “Needle in a haystack” means something hard to find.
  • “Herding cats” means a futile attempt to control or regulate an organization that is not controlled by nature.
  • “Barking up the wrong tree” means trying to do that doesn’t work.

Phrases opposite to Banging Your Head Against a Wall

  • “A dime a dozen” means something easy to find.
  • “As easy as pie" means a pleasant and straightforward task or experience.
  • “Child's play” means a task that is easy to do.
  • “Like taking candy from a baby” means easy to get.
  • “The sky's the limit” means there are no restrictions; anything is possible. You can get whatever you want.

What is The Correct Saying?

The correct saying is "banging your head against a wall." This phrase is used to describe the feeling of frustration or futility.

Ways People May Incorrectly Say Banging Your Head Against a Wall

  • Why don’t you go bang your head against a way to see if that helps?
  • Banging your head against the wall is really going to help.
  • It was so easy, just like banging my head against the wall.

Acceptable Ways to Phrase Banging Your Head Against a Wall

  • Trying to keep everyone happy is like banging my head against a wall.
  • I don’t think I’ll ever finish this mountain of work, instead I’ll just bang my head against the wall in frustration.
  • John never takes my advice, giving him tips is worse than banging my head against a wall.
  • Making you understand how much it hurts is like banging my head against a wall, you just don’t get it.

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