+
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.


Hold on, Frankie! Mama's coming!

How do you explain motherhood in a nutshell? Thanks to Cait Oakley, who stopped a preying bald eagle from capturing her pet goose as she breastfed her daughter, we have it summed up in one gloriously hilarious TikTok.

The now viral video shows the family’s pet goose, Frankie, frantically squawking as it gets dragged off the porch by a bald eagle—likely another mom taking care of her own kiddos.

Wearing nothing but her husband’s boxers while holding on to her newborn, Willow, Oakley dashes out of the house and successfully comes to Frankie's rescue while yelling “hey, hey hey!”

The video’s caption revealed that the Oakleys had already lost three chickens due to hungry birds of prey, so nothing was going to stop “Mama bear” from protecting “sweet Frankie.” Not even a breastfeeding session.

Oakley told TODAY Parents, “It was just a split second reaction ...There was nowhere to put Willow down at that point.” Sometimes being a mom means feeding your child and saving your pet all at the same time.

As for how she feels about running around topless in her underwear on camera, Oakley declared, “I could have been naked and I’m like, ‘whatever, I’m feeding my baby.’”

Keep ReadingShow less
Education

Teacher of the year explains why he's leaving district in unforgettable 3-minute speech

"I'm leaving in hopes that I can regain the ability to do the job that I love."

Lee Allen

For all of our disagreements in modern American life, there are at least a few things most of us can agree on. One of those is the need for reform in public education. We don't all agree on the solutions but many of the challenges are undeniable: retaining great teachers, reducing classroom size and updating the focus of student curriculums to reflect the ever-changing needs of a globalized workforce.

And while parents, politicians and activists debate those remedies, one voice is all-too-often ignored: that of teachers themselves.

This is why a short video testimony from a teacher in the Atlanta suburb of Gwinnett County went viral recently. After all, it's hard to deny the points made by someone who was just named teacher of the year and used the occasion to announce why he will be leaving the very school district that just honored him with that distinction.

Keep ReadingShow less

Goodbye. Maureen. Your "favorite child" will miss you.

What makes a good obituary? First, it should probably reflect the essence of the recently deceased person in an authentic, honest light. Second, it should feel personal, showing how that person’s life affected the lives of others. Then, of course, the right dash of humor can certainly help spark joy in an otherwise solemn moment.

New York Times journalist Caity Weaver achieved all those things masterfully in a eulogy written for her mother—the coupon-clipping, chronically late, green-thumbed Dr. Maureen Brennan-Weaver.

Caity clearly put her knack with words to good use, because her hilarious tribute quickly went viral on Twitter, leaving people not only with a good giggle, but a very precise picture of her mom.
Keep ReadingShow less