drive a nail in (someone's or something's) coffin(redirected from driving a nail in someone's coffin)
drive a nail in (someone's or something's) coffin
To do something that leads to or brings about one's, someone's or something's ruin, downfall, or failure. That class action lawsuit is going to drive a nail in the company's coffin. Every cigarette you smoke is driving a nail in your coffin. You know that, right? As I continued bumbling through the interview, I felt more and more sure that I was driving a nail in my own coffin.
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nail in one's coffin, drive/put a
Perform some destructive (or self-destructive) act. The term first appeared in print in Peter Pindar’s (John Wolcot’s) Ode no. 15 (1789): “Care to our coffin adds a nail.” It was repeated over the years, and in the early twentieth century was taken up by the Anti-Cigarette League, which announced that every cigarette smoked was a nail in one’s coffin, giving rise to the colloquial name coffin nail for a cigarette. “Have you a coffin nail?” wrote O. Henry (The Higher Abdication, 1907).
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer