The Carpentry Origins of the Idiom ‘Dead as a Doornail’

Canadian armorer Malcolm P.L. quite succinctly explains how the English idiom “Dead as a Doornail” came to be while demonstrating the carpentry process that provided its analogy.

According to Malcolm, nails have lives. When the protruding end of a long doornail is bent with a hammer and is driven into the wood, thus attaching it on both sides, the nail is considered dead. This process of “dead nailing” is very popular in older, rustic homes and is the source of the old saying.

In which I explain the meaning of the phrase, and demonstrate the process of dead nailing.

Dead Nailing Dead as Doornail

via Neatorama

Lori Dorn
Lori Dorn

Lori is a Laughing Squid Contributing Editor based in New York City who has been writing blog posts for over a decade. She also enjoys making jewelry, playing guitar, taking photos and mixing craft cocktails.