Dead as a Doornail
"Dead as a doornail" means something that is unquestionably dead and can refer to something that was either once living or is inanimate.

This phrase is an old one and goes back to the early 1400s. A famous poem by William Langland, entitled "The Vision of William Concerning Piers Plowman", circa 1362, reads, in today's language, "Faith without works is feebler than nothing, and dead as a doornail." The expression was in widespread use by the time Shakespeare, in 1592, wrote in King Henry VI, Part 2, " Look on my well: I have no meat these five days; yet, come thou and thy five men, and if I do not leave you all as dead as a doornail, I pray God I may never eat grass more."

But why doornails? In the 1400s, and earlier, doors were built with wooden boards and hand-forged nails. The nails were made long enough to attach vertical and horizontal boards. Once attached, the nailheads were bent over to make the connection even more secure. A nail bent this way was hard to remove and was thus considered 'dead'.

Use Example - Susan banged on the steering wheel in frustration; her car was dead as a doornail.

Source Tags : Shakespeare  Poetry     Concept Tags : Death