doornail


Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Encyclopedia.
Related to doornail: deader than a doornail

be (as) dead as a doornail

1. To be 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. To be 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

(as) dead as a doornail

1. Definitively dead. (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. 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 dodo

 and *dead as a doornail; deader than a doornail
dead; no longer in existence. (*Also: as ~.) That silly old idea is dead as a dodo. When I tried to start my car this morning, I discovered that the battery was deader than a doornail.
See also: dead, dodo

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 dodo

BRITISH
If something is as dead as a dodo, it is no longer active or popular. The foreign exchange market was as dead as a dodo. Note: The dodo was a large flightless bird that lived on the islands of Mauritius and Réunion. It became extinct in the late 17th century as a result of hunting and the destruction of its nests by pigs belonging to settlers on the islands.
See also: dead, dodo

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 (or the) dodo

1 no longer alive. 2 no longer effective, valid, or interesting. informal
The name dodo comes from Portuguese duodo meaning ‘simpleton’. It was applied to the large flightless bird of Mauritius because the bird had no fear of man and so was easily killed, being quickly wiped out by visiting European sailors. The dodo's fate has made it proverbial for something that is long dead and the name has been used metaphorically for an old-fashioned, stupid, or unenlightened person since the 19th century.
2000 John Caughie Television Drama The once pleasant family hour is now as dead as a dodo.
See also: dead, dodo

dead as a doornail (or as mutton)

completely dead.
A doornail was one of the large iron studs formerly often used on doors for ornamentation or for added strength; the word occurred in various alliterative phrases (e.g. deaf as a doornail and dour as a doornail ) but dead as a doornail is now the only one in common use.
See also: dead, doornail

(as) ˌdead as a ˈdoornail

(informal) completely dead
See also: dead, doornail

dead as a doornail

Undoubtedly dead.
See also: dead, doornail

as dead as a doornail

Really dead. Doornails, which provided strength and decoration, were hammered into the wood and then clenched for additional grip. Because a doornail was bent, it could not be used again, which made it even deader. A more recent phrase is “as dead as last year's tennis balls.” In the era before year-round indoor tennis, they would have lost their bounce before the start of the next season.
See also: dead, doornail
References in periodicals archive ?
Dead as a Doornail opens with Jason experiencing his first full moon as a werepanther.
As such, similes may either be lexicalized (as drunk as a skunk, sly as a fox and easy as pie) or created by the language user on the basis of actual similarity or culturally-conditioned perceptions (behave/sweat/be reared/live like a pig, dead as a doornail and work like a Trojan/hell/an automaton/a madman/a beaver/a slave) (Abu-Ssaydeh 2003).
But unless or until Democrats return to larger questions of public morality, they won't inspire a doornail.
Dead, as we say in America, as a doornail And as for Europe's resistance to this now-irreversible reality?
He said: 'At the present time it is as dead as a doornail.
Once, before the time of hucksters, mankind followed a simple four-phase plan: youth, adulthood, old age, and dead as a doornail.
Everyone in front of me was dead -- dead as a doornail.
They are deader than a doornail under Clinton's successor.
Critical Legal Studies was dead as a doornail, and the insights of legal realism had long since been coopted and domesticated.
Take a venue that's been fishing its head off, put a big match on it and it is dead as a doornail.
She had given him both barrels, and he was deader than a doornail," he related.
The Lieut wakes up, sees the stars twinkling up above him in the night sky, the engine dead as a doornail and nothing but blackness below.
It writhed painfully, and quickly sank to the bottom, dead as a doornail.
Union head Donald Fehr assumed the proposed new labor deal ``is dead, dead as a doornail.