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.
- Navel-Gazing (episode #1549) 06/29/2020: In 1971, when a new public library opened in Troy, Michigan, famous authors and artists were invited to write letters to the city's youngest readers,... [more]
- Yak Shaving (episode #1548) 06/08/2020: There was a time when William Shakespeare was just another little seven-year-old in school. Classes in his day were demanding — and all in Latin.... [more]
- Cabin Fever (episode #1547) 04/21/2020: The adjectives canine and feline refer to dogs and cats. But how does English address other groups of animals? Plus, cabin fever has been around... [more]
- Singing Sand (episode #1546) 04/06/2020: Cat hair may be something you brush off, but cat hair is also a slang term that means "money." In the same way, cat beer... [more]
- Baby's Breath (episode #1545) 03/23/2020: Have you ever googled your own name and found someone else who goes by the very same moniker? There's a word for that: googleganger. Plus,... [more]