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Dead on Foot

C.A. from Indianapolis says that when his mother was exhausted from a long day of work, she’d describe herself as dead on foot. This is part of a complete episode.

Heavier than a Dead Minister

Chelsea in Binghamton, New York, wonders about the phrase heavier than a dead minister, describing something ponderous. Sometimes it’s given as heavier than a dead preacher or priest. This is part of a complete episode.

Dead Nuts

An Escanoba, Michigan, construction worker who specializes in plumbing and pipefitting says that when he and his co-workers finish a task just so, they approvingly call it dead nuts. But he wonders if there’s anything obscene about that...


Having retired as a New York book editor, and looking for a way to fill her time, Ann Patty embarked on the study of college-level Latin. She chronicles those studies and the life lessons learned in Living with a Dead Language: My Romance with Latin...

Dead Ringers and Spitten Images

Two familiar terms that have inspired lots of bogus etymologies are “dead ringer” and “spitting image.” “Dead ringer” probably comes from horse racing, where a ringer is a horse that may look like other horses in...

Dead as a Doornail

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...