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Dead as a Doornail: Origin and Meaning

To be clearly and evidently dead
Dead as a doornail

Back in the 14th century, front doors were built using heavy hand-forged nails to strengthen the vertical and horizontal panels of a door or as decorations.

Once the nails were placed into position their protruding heads were hammered down and over into the wood to secure them, making them unusable if ever removed. The bent nails were commonly called “dead”, hence the expression dead as a doornail.

– I tried my hardest to wake my son up but he was as dead as a doornail. He finally surfaced around noon.

– I poked the fox I found in the garden with a stick, but, alas, it was as dead as a doornail.

– The negotiations reached a stalemate. I think the deal is as dead as a doornail.
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