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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

dumber than a doornail

Very stupid. Are you dumber than a doornail? Why did you think you could fix the washing machine on your own? I used to think that kid was dumber than a doornail, but he turned out to be a physicist.
See also: 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

If something is as dead as a dodo, it is no longer active or popular.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

dead as a doornail

Dead, unresponsive, defunct. This simile dates from the fourteenth century and the source of it has been lost. A doornail was either a heavy-headed nail for studding an outer door or the knob on which a door knocker strikes. One plausible explanation for the analogy to death is that it alluded to costly metal nails (rather than cheap wooden pegs), which were clinched and hence “dead” (could not be re-used). The expression was used in a fourteenth-century poem of unknown authorship, William of Palerne, and was still current when Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol (1843). There have been numerous similar proverbial comparisons—dead as a mackerel, dead as mutton, dead as a herring, dead as a stone—but this one, with its alliterative lilt, has survived longest.
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" was a common phrase in the mid-nineteenth century--it appears as early as 1350 in Langland's Piers Plowman and became Standard English by 1600 (Beale 294).
939) and more common meaning of "not alive." The association became clinched in our language, and many of us first learned this simile in the opening of Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol, in which Scrooge himself cogitates about the deadness of doornails:
Meanwhile, customer service is as dead as the proverbial doornail, conveyed to its not-so-peaceful final rest by automated switchboards, the cash-bots that have stealthily replaced bank tellers, offshore help-desks manned by minions.
"It was as dead as a doornail in January and February," Correia said.
Letters are composed via the Doornail website, with the option to have full colour including logos, and promotional messages can be added.
One day Tod took from the trash a framed certificate and went and hung it on the toilet doornail. With amusement he surveyed the wrought script--for several minutes.
Today, Progressive Education as our official statewide philosophy is as dead as a doornail" (Rafferty 1966b).
By the way, as an op-ed piece in last week's Washington Post by New York Life president and CEO Ted Mathes implied, principles-based reserve accounting, appears "deader than a doornail," in the words of one experienced industry lobbyist.
He claims that the national mobilizations of World War II and the Cold War left the traditional republic of checks and balances deader than a doornail. To describe the regime today as a republic would be "like calling Adolf Hitler a dictator or the weapon dropped on Hiroshima a bomb." (3) Instead of providing "enlightened governance," our dysfunctional political system "poses a clear and present danger to those it is meant to serve." (4) Plenty of blame exists to spread across the political spectrum.
"I know for me, if it was the '70s, I'd definitely be dead--dead as a doornail today."
In 1992 when Lower Sixth Avenue (Ladies Mile) from 14th Street to 23rd Street was dead as a doornail, Bed Bath & Beyond was the "retail fulcrum" that moved this neighborhood.
Today, that little world is deader than a doornail. It committed suicide, for a consideration.
Electrolyte tester: A handy tool for transferring sulphuric acid from a car battery to the inside of your toolbox after determining that your battery is dead as a doornail, just as you thought.