be useless, go a begging, fail, seek after impossibilities, strive after impossibilities, use vain efforts, labor in vain, roll the stone of Sisyphus, beat the air, lash the waves, battre l'eau avec un baton, donner un coup d'epee dans l'eau, fish in the air, milk the ram, drop a bucket into an empty well, sow the sand, bay the moon, preach to the winds, speak to the winds, whistle jigs to a milestone, kick against the pricks, se battre contre des moulins, lock the stable door when the steed is stolen, lock the barn door after the horse is stolen, hold a farthing candle to the sun, cast pearls before swine, carry coals to Newcastle, wash a blackamoor white, render useless, dismantle, dismast, dismount, disqualify
, disable, unrig, cripple, lame, spike guns, clip the wings, put out of gear.
be impotent, not have a leg to stand on, vouloir rompre l'anguille au genou, vouloir prendre la lune avec les dents, collapse, faint, swoon, fall into a swoon, drop, go by the board, go by the wayside, go up in smoke, end in smoke, render powerless, deprive of power, disable, disenable, disarm, incapacitate, disqualify
, unfit, invalidate, deaden, cramp, tie the hands, double up, prostrate, paralyze, muzzle, cripple, becripple, maim, lame, hamstring, draw the teeth of, throttle, strangle, garrotte, garrote, ratten, silence, sprain, clip the wings of, put hors de combat, spike the guns, take the wind out of one's sails, scotch the snake, put a spoke in one's wheel, break the neck, break the back, unhinge, unfit, put out of gear, unman, unnerve, enervate, emasculate, castrate, geld, alter, neuter, sterilize, fix, shatter, exhaust, weaken.
be undue, not be due, infringe, encroach, trench on, exact, arrogate, arrogate to oneself, give an inch and take an ell, stretch a point, strain a point, usurp, violate, do violence to, disfranchise, disentitle, disqualify
, invalidate, relax, misbehave, misbecome.