[ExI] Is tobacco really harmful?

Mike Dougherty msd001 at gmail.com
Mon Nov 23 13:51:07 UTC 2009

On Mon, Nov 23, 2009 at 2:52 AM, BillK <pharos at gmail.com> wrote:

> In 'A Christmas Carol' (1843) Dickens wrote:
> Old Marley was as dead as a door-nail.
> Mind! I don't mean to say that I know, of my own knowledge, what
> there is particularly dead about a door-nail. I might have been
> inclined, myself, to regard a coffin-nail as the deadest piece of
> ironmongery in the trade.

A nail through the strengthening crossbar of a door would protrude all the
way through and to secure wood from coming apart over time, the point of the
nail would be bent over and hammered down into the wood.  This would of
course make the nail unavailable for reuse, thus "dead".  The most common
use of the technique was in doors (few other places expose the point of the
nail)  So: "dead as a doornail."


I love the history of that expression - used almost as frequently as "rule
of thumb" but without such violence.  :)
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