as dead as a doornail


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Related to as dead as a doornail: at one fell swoop

(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

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