dead as a doornail
Also, dead as a dodo or herring. Totally or assuredly dead; also finished. For example, The cop announced that the body in the dumpster was dead as a doornail, or The radicalism she professed in her adolescence is now dead as a dodo, or The Equal Rights Amendment appears to be dead as a herring. The first, oldest, and most common of these similes, all of which can be applied literally to persons or, more often today, to issues, involves doornail, dating from about 1350. Its meaning is disputed but most likely it referred to the costly metal nails hammered into the outer doors of the wealthy (most people used the much cheaper wooden pegs), which were clinched on the inside of the door and therefore were “dead,” that is, could not be used again. Dead as a herring dates from the 16th century and no doubt alludes to the bad smell this dead fish gives off, making its death quite obvious. Dead as a dodo, referring to the extinct bird, dates from the early 1900s.
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How to use dead as a doornail in a sentence
The cartoonist, better known as Charb, was shot dead Wednesday.
ROME — What does it take for a Hollywood A-lister to get a private audience with Pope Francis?Pope Francis Has the Pleasure of Meeting Angelina Jolie for a Few Seconds|Barbie Latza Nadeau|January 8, 2015|DAILY BEAST
A policewoman was shot dead this morning while law enforcement searched for the Charlie Lebdo killers.
Absent a body, no one can say with absolute certainty whether Castro is dead, even if all signs point in that direction.
The two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is dead.In the Middle East, the Two-State Solution Is Dead|Dean Obeidallah|January 2, 2015|DAILY BEAST
A little boy of four was moved to passionate grief at the sight of a dead dog taken from a pond.Children's Ways|James Sully
Now-a-days it is the bankrupt who flouts, and his too confiding creditors who are jeered and laughed at.Glances at Europe|Horace Greeley
He felt himself the meanest, vilest thing a-crawl upon this sinful earth, and she—dear God!St. Martin's Summer|Rafael Sabatini
All that scientific bric-a-brac in the cupboard had far better be thrown away.The Salvaging Of Civilisation|H. G. (Herbert George) Wells
When he plays a sonata it is as if the composition rose from the dead and stood transfigured before you.Music-Study in Germany|Amy Fay