idioms, language, fun facts

A doornail really is deader than a regular nail.

"Old Marley was as dead as a doornail."

Charles Dickens' line from "A Christmas Carol" is probably the most famous example of the phrase "dead as a doornail," but it's certainly not the only one. Shakespeare used it in Henry IV Part 2: "Look on me well: I have eat 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." An unnamed poet used the idiom for the first time in print in a poem published in 1350, but it's still not uncommon to hear it used today.

"Dead as a doornail" obviously means dead, deceased, definitively not alive. But why a doornail and not just a nail? All nails are dead by their nature of being metal, right? So why even use a nail at all? Why not "dead as a door" or "dead as a rock"? Those are dead, too. What makes a doornail specifically deader than other dead things?

There's a surprisingly interesting answer to that question. As it turns out there really is a good reason for specifying a doornail to convey being really, truly dead.

YouTube creator Malcolm P.L., who mostly makes videos about the history of armor, shared an explanation as well as a demonstration of what a doornail actually is:


So it turns out that a doornail isn't just a nail in a door, but a nail that cannot be removed and reused. Way back when, nails were made by hand and quite valuable. People would salvage and repurpose nails whenever they could. The way doornails were bent and driven into the backside of a door made it virtually impossible for them to be reused as a nail.

So not only are doornails dead simply because they're nails, but because their future potential for any other use is also dead. They are doubly dead, if you will. Extra deceased.

How many other idioms do we commonly use without knowing their full origins? Let the cat out of the bag? The whole nine yards? Spill the beans? Get someone's goat?

Language is so fascinating. Time to do some Googling.


Joy

Meet Eva, the hero dog who risked her life saving her owner from a mountain lion

Wilson had been walking down a path with Eva when a mountain lion suddenly appeared.

Photo by Didssph on Unsplash

A sweet face and fierce loyalty: Belgian Malinois defends owner.

The Belgian Malinois is a special breed of dog. It's highly intelligent, extremely athletic and needs a ton of interaction. While these attributes make the Belgian Malinois the perfect dog for police and military work, they can be a bit of a handful as a typical pet.

As Belgian Malinois owner Erin Wilson jokingly told NPR, they’re basically "a German shepherd on steroids or crack or cocaine.”

It was her Malinois Eva’s natural drive, however, that ended up saving Wilson’s life.

According to a news release from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Wilson had been walking down a path with Eva slightly ahead of her when a mountain lion suddenly appeared and swiped Wilson across the left shoulder. She quickly yelled Eva’s name and the dog’s instincts kicked in immediately. Eva rushed in to defend her owner.

It wasn’t long, though, before the mountain lion won the upper hand, much to Wilson’s horror.

She told TODAY, “They fought for a couple seconds, and then I heard her start crying. That’s when the cat latched on to her skull.”

Keep Reading Show less

Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy asked his Senate colleagues the questions millions of Americans have after a mass shooting.

Another school shooting. Another mass murder of innocent children. They were elementary school kids this time. There were 18 children killed—so far—this time.

The fact that I can say "this time" is enraging, but that's the routine nature of mass shootings in the U.S. It happened in Texas this time. At least three adults were killed this time. The shooter was a teenager this time.

The details this time may be different than the last time and the time before that, and the time before that, and the time before that. But there's one thing all mass shootings have in common. No, it's not mental illness. It's not racism or misogyny or religious extremism. It's not bad parenting or violent video games or lack of religion.

Some of those things have been factors in some shootings, but the single common denominator in every mass shooting is guns. That's not a secret. It's not controversial. It's fact. The only thing all mass shootings have in common is guns.

Keep Reading Show less
Joy

Man uses TikTok to offer 'dinner with dad' to any kid that needs one, even adult ones

Summer Clayton is the father of 2.4 million kids and he couldn’t be more proud.

Come for the food, stay for the wholesomeness.

Summer Clayton is the father of 2.4 million kids and he couldn’t be more proud. His TikTok channel is dedicated to giving people intimate conversations they might long to have with their own father, but can’t. The most popular is his “Dinner With Dad” segment.

The concept is simple: Clayton, aka Dad, always sets down two plates of food. He always tells you what’s for dinner. He always blesses the food. He always checks in with how you’re doing.

I stress the stability here, because as someone who grew up with a less-than-stable relationship with their parents, it stood out immediately. I found myself breathing a sigh of relief at Clayton’s consistency. I also noticed the immediate emotional connection created just by being asked, “How was your day?” According to relationship coach and couples counselor Don Olund, these two elements—stability and connection—are fundamental cravings that children have of their parents. Perhaps we never really stop needing it from them.


Keep Reading Show less