Dead as a doornail


      • something is lifeless or inanimate
        To describe something that is completely lifeless or devoid of any activity or energy. Often used as a simile to emphasize the lack of vitality in a situation or object.

      • someone is very tired or exhausted
        To describe someone who is extremely tired or worn out, usually after a long day or strenuous activity. Can also be used to describe someone who is mentally drained or uninterested.

      • something is completely finished or over
        To describe something that is completely finished or ended. The use of "dead" emphasizes the finality and certainty of the situation, implying that there is no possibility for revival or continuation.

    Examples of Dead as a doornail

    • After the storm, the entire neighborhood was dead as a doornail.

      In this example, 'dead as a doornail' is used to describe the lifelessness of the entire neighborhood after a storm. The idiom signifies that everything is completely still and devoid of life, just like a doornail that is completely motionless.

    • The witness described the victim as being absolutely dead as a doornail.

      Here, 'dead as a doornail' describes the complete lack of movement or vitality in the victim's lifeless body, just as a doornail is entirely motionless.

    • The old abandoned storefront sat, silent and dead as a doornail.

      In this example, the expression 'dead as a doornail' emphasizes the lifelessness and emptiness of the old and abandoned storefront. It shows that there is no activity or life, as if everything is as motionless as a doornail.

    • The defendant testified that the victim was already dead as a doornail when he discovered the body.

      Here, 'dead as a doornail' indicates that the victim was completely motionless and lifeless, just as a doornail is motionless. There was no indication of any living presence.

    • She gasped and slumped back onto the couch, dead as a doornail.

      After hearing the shocking news, she fell back onto the couch motionlessly like a lifeless doornail.

    • The approval process for his proposal went about as smoothly as a doornail through a linen suit.

      The entire authorization process for his proposal was slow and tedious, as was the process of getting a doornail through a fabric suit.

    • By the time we got to work that morning, we were all dead as doornails from lack of sleep.

      We were all so tired from a lack of rest that we were immobile and lifeless, resembling a doornail in its stillness.

    • The project had been on hold for so long that it was dead as a doornail, and any hope of reviving it seemed futile.

      The initiative had been stagnant for such a prolonged period that it was completely inactive, much like a motionless doornail.


    Overall, the idiom "dead as a doornail" is used to describe something that is lifeless, exhausted, or completely over. It is often used as a simile to emphasize the lack of vitality in a situation or object. This idiom can also convey a sense of finality and certainty, suggesting that there is no possibility for revival or continuation.

    Origin of "Dead as a doornail"

    The origin of this idiom can be traced back to the 14th century, when doornails were commonly used in the construction of doors. These nails were large and flat, and were hammered into the wood at the corners of the door to provide reinforcement. However, once these nails were hammered in, they could not be removed without causing damage to the door. This made them "dead" or unusable for any other purpose.

    Over time, the phrase "dead as a doornail" evolved to mean something that is lifeless or inanimate, as the nails were no longer able to serve their original purpose. It was also used to describe someone who was very tired or exhausted, as if they were as lifeless as a doornail. The phrase gained popularity in literature and was famously used by William Shakespeare in his play "Henry VI, Part 2".

    Today, the idiom is still commonly used in everyday language to describe something that is completely finished, lifeless, or exhausted. It has also been adapted into other variations, such as "dead as a doorknob" or "dead as a doormouse".