Reference > Brewer’s Dictionary > Dead.

 De Trop (French).Dead. 
E. Cobham Brewer 1810–1897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
Dead as a door-nail. The door-nail is the plate or knob on which the knocker or hammer strikes. As this nail is knocked on the head several times a day, it cannot be supposed to have much life left in it.   1
        “Come thou and thy five men, and if I do not leave you all as dead as a door-nail, I pray God I may never eat grass more.”—Shakespeare: 2 Henry VI., iv. 10. (Jack Cade.)
Falstaff. What! is the old king dead?
Pistol. As nail in door.”
Shakespeare: 2 Henry IV., v. 3.
   Dead as a herring. (See HERRING.)   2

 De Trop (French).Dead. 


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