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BS: How dead is a door nail?

katlaughing 19 Feb 08 - 12:02 PM
Rapparee 19 Feb 08 - 12:08 PM
GUEST,PMB 19 Feb 08 - 12:09 PM
Bill D 19 Feb 08 - 12:11 PM
Little Hawk 19 Feb 08 - 12:14 PM
John on the Sunset Coast 19 Feb 08 - 12:16 PM
Megan L 19 Feb 08 - 12:23 PM
Bill D 19 Feb 08 - 12:25 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 19 Feb 08 - 12:26 PM
Severn 19 Feb 08 - 12:28 PM
McGrath of Harlow 19 Feb 08 - 12:29 PM
Little Hawk 19 Feb 08 - 12:33 PM
Bill D 19 Feb 08 - 12:35 PM
Little Hawk 19 Feb 08 - 12:41 PM
Severn 19 Feb 08 - 01:06 PM
PoppaGator 19 Feb 08 - 01:21 PM
Rapparee 19 Feb 08 - 03:25 PM
Slag 19 Feb 08 - 04:00 PM
Charley Noble 19 Feb 08 - 04:20 PM
katlaughing 19 Feb 08 - 04:23 PM
Cluin 19 Feb 08 - 04:40 PM
Severn 19 Feb 08 - 08:23 PM
Rowan 19 Feb 08 - 11:18 PM
Bryn Pugh 20 Feb 08 - 07:02 AM
Rapparee 20 Feb 08 - 09:14 AM
EBarnacle 20 Feb 08 - 09:20 AM
Schantieman 20 Feb 08 - 10:53 AM
Mr Happy 20 Feb 08 - 11:32 AM
GUEST,Bert 20 Feb 08 - 11:51 AM
Mr Happy 20 Feb 08 - 11:58 AM
PoppaGator 20 Feb 08 - 12:48 PM
topical tom 20 Feb 08 - 03:02 PM
katlaughing 20 Feb 08 - 03:26 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 20 Feb 08 - 03:36 PM
Cluin 22 Feb 08 - 05:02 PM
MartinRyan 22 Feb 08 - 05:36 PM
Rowan 22 Feb 08 - 08:38 PM
frogprince 22 Feb 08 - 08:47 PM
*daylia* 23 Feb 08 - 07:49 AM
autolycus 23 Feb 08 - 10:15 AM
Mysha 23 Feb 08 - 12:49 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 23 Feb 08 - 02:02 PM
meself 23 Feb 08 - 02:41 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 23 Feb 08 - 03:19 PM
Don(Wyziwyg)T 23 Feb 08 - 08:19 PM
Crane Driver 24 Feb 08 - 05:30 PM
Rowan 24 Feb 08 - 10:09 PM
EBarnacle 24 Feb 08 - 10:30 PM

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Subject: BS: How dead is a door nail?
From: katlaughing
Date: 19 Feb 08 - 12:02 PM

And, how flat is a pancake? Where did these expressions come from!?


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Subject: RE: BS: How dead is a door nail?
From: Rapparee
Date: 19 Feb 08 - 12:08 PM

I made some blueberry pancakes over the weekend that were about 1/2 inch high, but that was because of the additional height added by the blueberries. Usually the pancakes are about 1/4 to 1/3 inch high. They are almost always level across the top and bottom, so I'd say they could be defined as "flat."

I have never in my life seen a living doornail, although I will admit that there might be exceptions. Come to think of it, most doors I've seen are screwed to hinges and the hinges are screwed to the frame; no nails appear at all. I have seen some doors with nails, however.


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Subject: RE: BS: How dead is a door nail?
From: GUEST,PMB
Date: 19 Feb 08 - 12:09 PM

They were invented by a French nobleman, le Seigneur de Cliché. He was a friend of le Chevalier Plonque. Many of them were published in Old Saw's Almanack, which was pulped and force fed to schoolchildren down to the 1960s.


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Subject: RE: BS: How dead is a door nail?
From: Bill D
Date: 19 Feb 08 - 12:11 PM

WorldWideWords is your friend


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Subject: RE: BS: How dead is a door nail?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 19 Feb 08 - 12:14 PM

I have tried striking up conversations with doornails, kat, and I got no reply.


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Subject: RE: BS: How dead is a door nail?
From: John on the Sunset Coast
Date: 19 Feb 08 - 12:16 PM

Hey, Bill D, thanks for that link. I enjoy the etymology, both actual and folk, of words and phrases. It is a bookmark on my computer now.


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Subject: RE: BS: How dead is a door nail?
From: Megan L
Date: 19 Feb 08 - 12:23 PM

As children we were told the door in question was the lid of a coffin. in country areas they were hed down with large dome headed nails made in the forge when they were struck by the blacksmith it was said they did not ring as a bar of metal would.


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Subject: RE: BS: How dead is a door nail?
From: Bill D
Date: 19 Feb 08 - 12:25 PM

John OTSC...I get the WWW additions in my email...you can subscribe...


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Subject: RE: BS: How dead is a door nail?
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 19 Feb 08 - 12:26 PM

OED- Very old usage in England, 14th c.
c. 1350. Will. Palerne: For but ich haue bot of mi bale I am ded as dorenail.
Shakespeare used it more than once in his plays.


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Subject: RE: BS: How dead is YOUR door nail?
From: Severn
Date: 19 Feb 08 - 12:28 PM

What? Is there a Round Pancake Society to swear that they're NOT, that they're globular? Ther're certainly flat enough to order by the stack and keep most of the syrup on top rather than resembling a Sherwin-Williams "Cover The Earth" sign on a paint can. Maybe cooking them in a pan has something to do with it A better question Might be why do fast selling items SELL like hotcakes?.....

My doornails are deader than most doormen or doormice. My doormat may be merely dormant. Right now, my doorbell doesn't work. It might as well be a nail.

My question is why is it that dead doornails stay in the door and do their appointed jobs, while dead stubbed toenails just fall off, after a while?

One seasonal thought. Thank God they didn't toenail Jesus to the cross!.....


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Subject: RE: BS: How dead is a door nail?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 19 Feb 08 - 12:29 PM

Charles Dickens was also curious about the expression:

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. But the wisdom of our ancestors is in the simile; and my unhallowed hands shall not disturb it, or the Country's done for. You will therefore permit me to repeat, emphatically, that Marley was as dead as a door-nail.


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Subject: RE: BS: How dead is a door nail?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 19 Feb 08 - 12:33 PM

From childhood:

Fatty and Skinny went to bed
Fatty rolled over and Skinny was dead
Fatty called the doctor, the doctor said
"What's that pancake doin' in the bed?"


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Subject: RE: BS: How dead is a door nail?
From: Bill D
Date: 19 Feb 08 - 12:35 PM

How Waffle!


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Subject: RE: BS: How dead is a door nail?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 19 Feb 08 - 12:41 PM

Waffles are for squares!


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Subject: RE: BS: How dead is a door nail?
From: Severn
Date: 19 Feb 08 - 01:06 PM

And for Eggomaniacs!

"Love and joy come to you
Aunt Jemima waffles, too...."


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Subject: RE: BS: How dead is a door nail?
From: PoppaGator
Date: 19 Feb 08 - 01:21 PM

It's all about alliteration, I think.

We certainly would have long forgotten the existence of the word "handbasket" if it did not start with the same consonant as "hell."


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Subject: RE: BS: How dead is a door nail?
From: Rapparee
Date: 19 Feb 08 - 03:25 PM

How about a handbasket full of dead doornails, all flat as a pancake?


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Subject: RE: BS: How dead is a door nail?
From: Slag
Date: 19 Feb 08 - 04:00 PM

In order for something to be dead as oppose to "inert", it first must have lived.

What would a living doornail say or do? I have no idea. Have you?   Doornails come and doornails go. If any are living, they live awfully slow.

With my sincere apologies to Dr. Suess


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Subject: RE: BS: How dead is a door nail?
From: Charley Noble
Date: 19 Feb 08 - 04:20 PM

Bill really linked above to my favorite explanation:

"But William and Mary Morris, in The Morris Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins, quote a correspondent who points out that it could come from a standard term in carpentry. If you hammer a nail through a piece of timber and then flatten the end over on the inside so it can't be removed again (a technique called clinching), the nail is said to be dead, because you can't use it again. Doornails would very probably have been subjected to this treatment to give extra strength in the years before screws were available. So they were dead because they'd been clinched."

One of our traditional ceremonial sea songs, "Dead Horse Shanty," uses the line "dead as a nail on the lamproom door." We might assume that these nail heads were appropriately flattened. For those who are now curious to know what a "dead horse" had to do with sailors, it was a symbol of the advance pay they or their crimp received before boarding ship. So they didn't earn any additional pay until they had worked off the "dead horse." Why a "dead horse"? Well ---- it would sound pretty funny trying to work off a dead door nail.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: BS: How dead is a door nail?
From: katlaughing
Date: 19 Feb 08 - 04:23 PM

Kewl, Charley, thanks!

Thanks to the rest of you, too. BillD, I remembered that site, one of my favs., but I thought this would be fun here, too.:-)

Severn, Up With Globular Pancakes!! They are round mounds, I tell you, round mounds!


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Subject: RE: BS: How dead is a door nail?
From: Cluin
Date: 19 Feb 08 - 04:40 PM

What are the "Hobs o' Hell" and why are they so damned hot? Or hard?

Which is it? I've heard both.


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Subject: RE: BS: How dead is a door nail?
From: Severn
Date: 19 Feb 08 - 08:23 PM

I learned it 'Hinges of Hell"


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Subject: RE: BS: How dead is a door nail?
From: Rowan
Date: 19 Feb 08 - 11:18 PM

So they didn't earn any additional pay until they had worked off the "dead horse."

Whereas "flogging a dead horse" as a term for a useless activity is, more obviously, an apt expression.

"Hobs o' Hell"
I've heard both expressions used. As I recall (and I don't have the OED handy) the hobs here are the supports for a fire in a hearth. Deep in the coals they'd be the hottest part of the fire and, for hearths made from ceramic or stone, the harder they were the longer they'd last.

Cheers, Rowan


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Subject: RE: BS: How dead is a door nail?
From: Bryn Pugh
Date: 20 Feb 08 - 07:02 AM

I heard it as 'black as the hobs of hell'

The local one I was brought up on : 'black as a fire-back'.


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Subject: RE: BS: How dead is a door nail?
From: Rapparee
Date: 20 Feb 08 - 09:14 AM

And let's not forget about Hogan's goat....


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Subject: RE: BS: How dead is a door nail?
From: EBarnacle
Date: 20 Feb 08 - 09:20 AM

Consider that when a door nail is fully seated, it will no longer ring when hammered upon. It soundeth dead!


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Subject: RE: BS: How dead is a door nail?
From: Schantieman
Date: 20 Feb 08 - 10:53 AM

One goes to hell in a handcart, surely, not a handbasket? (whatever that is)

Steve


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Subject: RE: BS: How dead is a door nail?
From: Mr Happy
Date: 20 Feb 08 - 11:32 AM

......also 'deaf as a door post'?'


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Subject: RE: BS: How dead is a door nail?
From: GUEST,Bert
Date: 20 Feb 08 - 11:51 AM

An English pancake is what Americans would call a crepe. Much flatter than an American pancake.


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Subject: RE: BS: How dead is a door nail?
From: Mr Happy
Date: 20 Feb 08 - 11:58 AM

.....yes & you need a full blown risk assessment from the HSE completed before you can run round your local streets with one in a frying pan!


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Subject: RE: BS: How dead is a door nail?
From: PoppaGator
Date: 20 Feb 08 - 12:48 PM

I don't know what a handbasket is either, but that word is featured in the expression as I've heard it (in the US) ~ not "handcart.".

Well, I suppose I do know what a handbasket would be ~ a small basket with a handle, like an Easter Basket, I would assume. But I've never heard the word used except as a means by which one might be going to hell.


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Subject: RE: BS: How dead is a door nail?
From: topical tom
Date: 20 Feb 08 - 03:02 PM

What about the living dead?


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Subject: RE: BS: How dead is a door nail?
From: katlaughing
Date: 20 Feb 08 - 03:26 PM

An Oxie Moron if I ever heard one!:-)

I've always heard it as "handbasket," too. One reference, which was not verified, thought it might have to do with baskets in which undertakers collected bodies. Another thought it a cynical reference to the baskets used to catch heads from the guillotine during the French Revolution.


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Subject: RE: BS: How dead is a door nail?
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 20 Feb 08 - 03:36 PM

"I can see when I see, surely; I don't carry my eyes in a handbasket." Crowne, Dramatic Works, 1873. OED

handbasket- "usu. used in the phrase ...'to hell in a handbasket,' denoting rapid and utter ruination." Webster's Collegiate Dictionary.

(Posted recently in a similar thread- Mudcat seems to attract people who like odd phrases)


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Subject: RE: BS: How dead is a door nail?
From: Cluin
Date: 22 Feb 08 - 05:02 PM

And is it God or the Devil that's in the the details?

And are idle hands the Devil's workshop or his playground or his tools?


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Subject: RE: BS: How dead is a door nail?
From: MartinRyan
Date: 22 Feb 08 - 05:36 PM

Copper


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Subject: RE: BS: How dead is a door nail?
From: Rowan
Date: 22 Feb 08 - 08:38 PM

And is it God or the Devil that's in the the details?

And are idle hands the Devil's workshop or his playground or his tools?


Where I'm from, the devil is in the details and the Devil makes work for idle hands.

Cheers, Rowan


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Subject: RE: BS: How dead is a door nail?
From: frogprince
Date: 22 Feb 08 - 08:47 PM

I grew up with "an idle mind is the Devil's workshop".


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Subject: RE: BS: How dead is a door nail?
From: *daylia*
Date: 23 Feb 08 - 07:49 AM

Oh, quit pulling my antlers!


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Subject: RE: BS: How dead is a door nail?
From: autolycus
Date: 23 Feb 08 - 10:15 AM

Hello, *daylia*.

I have a coupla reference works that nail what worldwidewords nearly says. The part of a door-knocker that the knocker is banged against was the door-nail. And if anything is hit repeatedly by a piece of iron,..............................

I have a vague memory of the phrase "and go to hell in a handcart".

Ivor


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Subject: RE: BS: How dead is a door nail?
From: Mysha
Date: 23 Feb 08 - 12:49 PM

Hi Charles,

I guess "Working off a dead horse" would refer to a specific type of advance. Literally, it would be for someone in a horse-based trade, working for a boss but responsible for the horse he's riding or driving. If the horse would die, it would be replaced by the boss, but there would be no weekly pay until the dead horse was paid for. I've heard expressions like that used over here, though, for any initial costs that have to be matched before the money that is gained can really be considered profit.

BFN
                                                                  Mysha


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Subject: RE: BS: How dead is a door nail?
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 23 Feb 08 - 02:02 PM

Why guess? The OED has most of this stuff.

"to work, etc. for a dead horse, or to work the dead horse: to do work which has been paid for in advance, and so brings no further profit."
Earliest quotation in the OED from 1638.


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Subject: RE: BS: How dead is a door nail?
From: meself
Date: 23 Feb 08 - 02:41 PM

"If the horse would die, it would be replaced by the boss"

Those were the days! Yee-haw!


("How dead is a doornail?" Deader'n a mackeral where I come from.)


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Subject: RE: BS: How dead is a door nail?
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 23 Feb 08 - 03:19 PM

As kids I remember saying dead as a dodo. That dead mackerel got around, too.


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Subject: RE: BS: How dead is a door nail?
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 23 Feb 08 - 08:19 PM

"One goes to hell in a handcart, surely, not a handbasket? (whatever that is)"

I grew up with the expression "going to hell in a handbasket" whenever my achievements fell short of expectations.

Later I learned a new expression, when, as an aprentice carpenter I produced a substandard frame.

"That frame is as pissed as a homemade handcart"

Heard that one quite often before I qualified.

Don T.


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Subject: RE: BS: How dead is a door nail?
From: Crane Driver
Date: 24 Feb 08 - 05:30 PM

"Dead as a doornail/ lamp-room door"

In the old-time navy, you get the combination of a wooden ship and gunpowder - potentially troublesome. Especially as the gunpowder was stored down below decks where there were no windows to let in the light. Taking a lit torch or candle into the gunpowder store was frowned upon, often briefly and from a great height. The lamp-room was next to the gunpowder store, with a glass window to throw light on the powder without risk of ignition.

Nails in the woodwork were also a source of risk, because if struck they could create a spark. Nails in the lamp-room door and around the powder store were 'deadened' by being painted over with pitch to protect from this eventuality. With people ashore living in wooden houses with thatched roofs, the practice of 'deadening' door nails with pitch or something similar was probably more widespread.

Andrew


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Subject: RE: BS: How dead is a door nail?
From: Rowan
Date: 24 Feb 08 - 10:09 PM

Nails in the [gunpowder room] woodwork were also a source of risk, because if struck they could create a spark. Nails in the lamp-room door and around the powder store were 'deadened' by being painted over with pitch to protect from this eventuality.

All metalwork in such places, "originally", was required to be copper rather than ferrous, as copper doesn't produce sparks. But I'm not sure whether a copper nail is 'deader' than a ferrous one.

Cheers, Rowan


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Subject: RE: BS: How dead is a door nail?
From: EBarnacle
Date: 24 Feb 08 - 10:30 PM

The Dead Horse was sailor slang for the time required to work off the advance/signing fee. When a sailor signed on from a boarding house or as an independent, a month's advance on his salary was paid over. In theory, this money was to provide all the gear the sailor needed to have when coming aboard. When the month was over, he had worked off the dead horse and was working on his own account. In Bone's book, "Bowsprit Ashore," reference is made to a sailor who bragged about never having worked a full month in the packet trade.


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