reinvent the wheel

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reinvent the wheel (third-person singular simple present reinvents the wheel, present participle reinventing the wheel, simple past and past participle reinvented the wheel)

  1. (idiomatic) To do work unnecessarily when it has already been done satisfactorily by others; to attempt to devise a solution to a problem when a solution already exists.
    • 1993, Marsha Witten, “Narrative and the Culture of Obedience at the Workplace”, in Dennis K. Mumby, editor, Narrative and Social Control: Critical Perspectives (Sage Annual Reviews of Communications Research; 21), Newbury Park, Calif.; London: SAGE Publications, →ISBN, page 108:
      A narrative circulates at Mitchell, Hall about a naive young employee who, in his eagerness to be creative, "reinvents the wheel," devoting so many hours reformulating work that has already been done that he drives himself into a nervous breakdown.
    • 1996, Peter Lake, “Retrospective: Wentworth’s Political World in Revisionist and Post-revisionist Perspective”, in J. F. Merritt, editor, The Political World of Thomas Wentworth, Earl of Strafford, 1621–1641, 1st paperback edition, Cambridge: University of Cambridge, →ISBN, pages 252–253:
      [] I do not want to make inflated claims for the methodological or conceptual novelty of a certain school or group of writers. Claims to historiographical significance set in a methodological key too often turn out to be claims to have reinvented the wheel. On the contrary, what follows is intended merely to provide some account of the current state of historiographical play in the interpretative aftermath of what has come to be called revisionism and to use the figure of Wentworth to do so.
    • 2000 August 28, Dave Kearns, “Directory Services: Let’s not reinvent the wheel”, in Network World, volume 17, number 35, Southborough, Mass.: Network World, Inc., ISSN 0887-7661, OCLC 803858702, page 22:
      Evidently, the trend in security applications is to reinvent the wheel, or in this case, to reinvent the directory service.
    • 2012, Gerhard J[ohannes] Plenert, “How Can Lean Help IT?”, in Lean Management Principles for Information Technology (Series on Resource Management), Boca Raton, Fla.: CRC Press, →ISBN, table 5.4 (The 7 Wastes in IT), page 129:
      Overprocessing. The big problem in this area is a lack of standardization. A lot of time is spent reinventing the wheel. There are a lot of similar activities, and the lead time (set-up time) for reinventing the process should be eliminated.
    • 2017 January 20, Annie Zaleski, “AFI Sounds Refreshed and Rejuvenated on Its 10th Album, AFI (The Blood Album)”, in The A.V. Club[1], archived from the original on 10 September 2017:
      But although AFI (The Blood Album) doesn't reinvent the wheel, it doesn’t need to: The record illustrates that the members of AFI are deeply committed to forward motion, and remain as fired up now as they were 25 years ago.


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