beaten track

1) A track worn hard by the repeated passage of feet.

The OED has ‘beaten trod’, ‘beaten road’ and ‘beaten track’ so the idea has a long history. However, the following reference predates the first combination with ‘track’ and places the expression in a meaningful context: 1744 he placed two pieces of wood, cut down and the branches cut off, at some distance from the bole, in the highway, being there 15 yards wide, but out of the common track: afterwards the same pieces were removed by some person into the beaten track, West Riding.

places West Riding
dates 1744

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