What does it mean to put lipstick on a pig?

Putting lipstick on a pig – one of our favorite phrases of corporate America – is used to basically say that trying to make something hopelessly ugly with a small improvement is pointless. Because a pig is really ugly – putting lipstick on it is completely pointless, and doesn’t make it look any prettier. This phrase is used often in the American workplace and one example of how this phrase is used is to describe how some projects are basically a waste of time.

An example will help clarify this. Suppose you are maintaining some software that is 20 years old, and now people want to make some major updates to this older, outdated software. Now, this is a great example of how this phrase can be used. You know that updating this old, outdated software is pointless – since it makes more sense to just replace the entire software. So, you say, “Making major updates to this older, outdated software is like putting lipstick on a pig.”




”Putting Lipstick on A Pig” In a Sentence



Tom:  “Doing any extra work on this old car is like 
putting lipstick on a pig.”



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