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.
- Dirty Laundry (#episode 1520) 03/11/2019: When you had sleepovers as a child, what did you call the makeshift beds you made on the floor? In some places, you call those... [more]
- Keep Your Powder Dry (episode #1519) 02/25/2019: Jacuzzi and silhouette are eponyms — that is, they derive from the names of people. An Italian immigrant to California invented the bubbly hot tub... [more]
- One-Armed Paper Hanger (episode #1518) 02/18/2019: The emotional appeal of handwriting and the emotional reveal of animal phrases. Should children be taught cursive writing in school, or is their time better... [more]
- Hair on Your Tongue (episode #1517) 02/11/2019: If you speak both German and Spanish, you may find yourself reaching for a German word instead of a Spanish one, and vice versa. This... [more]
- Train of Thought (episode #1516) 02/04/2019: Chances are you recognize the expressions Judgment Day and root of all evil as phrases from the Bible. There are many others, such as the... [more]