dead as a doornail


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(as) dead as a doornail

1. No longer alive, for certain. (Doornails were hammered in a such a way that they could not be reused.) I poked that squirrel with a stick and, yeah, it's as dead as a doornail.
2. Totally defunct. Oh, that idea from last week's meeting is dead as a doornail now that the CEO has vetoed it.
See also: dead, doornail

dead as a doornail

Also, dead as a dodo or herring . Totally or assuredly dead; also finished. For example, The cop announced that the body in the dumpster was dead as a doornail, or The radicalism she professed in her adolescence is now dead as a dodo, or The Equal Rights Amendment appears to be dead as a herring. The first, oldest, and most common of these similes, all of which can be applied literally to persons or, more often today, to issues, involves doornail, dating from about 1350. Its meaning is disputed but most likely it referred to the costly metal nails hammered into the outer doors of the wealthy (most people used the much cheaper wooden pegs), which were clinched on the inside of the door and therefore were "dead," that is, could not be used again. Dead as a herring dates from the 16th century and no doubt alludes to the bad smell this dead fish gives off, making its death quite obvious. Dead as a dodo, referring to the extinct bird, dates from the early 1900s.
See also: dead, doornail

dead as a doornail

1. If a person or animal is as dead as a doornail, they are completely dead. From the start of the movie it is clear that she will be as dead as a doornail by the time the credits roll.
2. If something or someone is as dead as a doornail, they are no longer active or popular. My $2,500 computer was dead as a doornail. Nobody will hire him now. He's finished. Dead as a doornail. Note: It is not certain what `doornail' actually refers to. In medieval times, it may have been the plate or knob on a door which was hit by the knocker. It was thought that anything that was struck so often must have been dead. Alternatively, doornails may have been the thick nails which were set into outer doors. It is not clear why these nails should be described as `dead'.
See also: dead, doornail

dead as a doornail

Undoubtedly dead.
See also: dead, doornail