doornail(redirected from doornails)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Encyclopedia.
*dead as a dodoand *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.
(as) dead as a doornail
1. obviously dead The fox in the road was dead as a doornail.
2. not active at all Nothing ever happens in our town - it's as dead as a doornail.
Etymology: based on the literal meaning of doornail (a nail with a large head)
be as dead as a doornail(informal)
to be dead I found the fish, dead as a doornail, floating on the surface of the water. At first I though Jake was dead as a doornail, but he was only fast asleep.
be as deaf as a post(British, American & Australian informal) also be as deaf as a doorknob/doornail (Australian)
to be completely deaf She's 89 and as deaf as a post.See fall on deaf ears, turn a deaf ear
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.
dead as a 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.