Dead as a doornail is a common idiom, but what exactly is a doornail, and why is it dead? The saying goes at least as far back as the 1350’s, and may simply refer to the fact that the nails used to make big, heavy doors were securely fixed in place – the modifier dead having the same sort of unequivocal sense suggested in the expression “dead certain.” This is part of a complete episode.
- Care Package (episode #1511) 11/12/2018: Sending someone a care package shows you care, of course. But the first care packages were boxes of food and personal items for survivors of... [more]
- Ding-Ding Man (episode #1509) 10/29/2018: In 1803, a shy British pharmacist wrote a pamphlet that made him a reluctant celebrity. The reason? He proposed a revolutionary new system for classifying... [more]
- Take Tea for the Fever (episode #1508) 10/22/2018: Silence comes in many forms. Writer Paul Goodman says there is, for example, the noisy silence of "resentment and self-recrimination," and the helpful, participatory silence... [more]
- Sundog (episode #1507) 10/15/2018: A clever pun can make the difference between a so-so phrase and a memorable one. The phrase "the last straw" refers to an old fable... [more]
- Oh, For Cute! (episode #1506) 10/08/2018: A stereotype is a preconceived notion about a person or group. Originally, though, the word stereotype referred to a printing device used to produce lots... [more]