Dead as a doornail

“Don’t look forward to the day you stop suffering, because when it comes you’ll know you’re dead.” That quote is from Tennessee Williams, the famous Mississippi-born playwright. How else will you know you’re dead? You’ll hear people using these idioms about you:

He was dead as a doornail. Doornails are long enough to connect the vertical boards with the horizontal supports. When the protruding ends are pounded down, the nail is said to be “dead” because it could not be pulled out. This phrase can be used for both animate and inanimate objects. (My phone is dead as a doornail. Can I borrow your charger?)

He went toes up/belly up. Like a dead person on a slab, if you’re lying on your back, your toes and/or belly are pointing skyward.

She gave up the ghost. Her soul left her body.

He bit the dust. If you suddenly died, you might fall forward and get a mouthful of dirt.

She’s six feet under. That’s the traditional depth at which one is buried.

He shuffled off this mortal coil. His suffering in life is over.

She pegged out. When you score the winning point in cribbage, you “peg out.” Game over.

He kicked the bucket. A “bucket” is a yoke or beam used to carry slaughtered animals who would sometimes spasm after death and … well, you get it.

She’s gone to her great reward. Gone to Heaven, presumably.

He’s pushing up daisies. I always picture a long, skeletal finger poking the flowers up through the ground one at the time.

And one for the living:

Man, you are casket sharp! All dressed up in your very best, just like you would be if you were laid out in a pine box.

2 thoughts on “Dead as a doornail

Leave a Reply