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carry coals to Newcastle



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Newcastle upon Tyne (in Britain) was a major coal exporting city, so sending coal there would be pointless.


carry coals to Newcastle

  1. (idiomatic) To do something that is unneeded or redundant.
    • 1851, Herman Melville, chapter 81, in Moby-Dick[1]:
      However curious it may seem for an oil-ship to be borrowing oil on the whale-ground, and however much it may invertedly contradict the old proverb about carrying coals to Newcastle, yet sometimes such a thing really happens; and in the present case Captain Derick De Deer did indubitably conduct a lamp-feeder as Flask did declare.
    • 1960, P. G. Wodehouse, Jeeves in the Offing, chapter II:
      He's the fellow who likes to let off stink bombs in night clubs, which rather falls under the head of carrying coals to Newcastle [...]


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