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Spoken English

Deaf as a doornail – Idiom of the Day

deaf as a doornail
Posted: January 4, 2021 at 2:22 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)


Used to mock someone that they are nearly deaf.

Someone who is deaf as a doornail is someone who is, or is accused of being, almost completely if not completely deaf. It’s also related to other similar expressions such as deaf as a post, deaf as a doorpost, and deaf as a doorknob


History dates back to the 13th century. In those days, carpenters used a doornail for placing doors. Once the door nail is bent at the ends and secured, any additional carpentry work will not have any effect on it . There are also references to the idiom being used in 1546. The idiom is also used in an American story published in 1917.

Idiom scenarios:

Scenario 1:

Help – Desk : Hello, Natasha, here. How may I help you?
Customer ( feebly) : I want to book a flight to Paris.
Friend 1: I can barely hear you
Friend 2( feebly again) : I want to book a flight to Paris.
Help – Desk ( angrily) : I’m deaf as a doornail. Can you be louder, please?

Scenario 2:

Wife : Here is the brochure of the latest diamond jewellery
Husband seems disinterested.
Wife’s friend : I think he didn’t hear you.
Wife : He is deaf as a doornail

Scenario 3:

Air Hostess 1: Would you like to have a drink ?
Passenger ( in a flight): Does not reply. Engrossed in a book
Air hostess 2: I think he is deaf as a doornail


Go through the examples to understand the usage of the idiom:

1. The waitress was tired of repeating the menu over and over again. She thought that the customer was deaf as a doornail.
2. The lawyer argued fiercely. But the judge seemed deaf as a doornail.
3. Sarah became deaf as a doornail because of the bomb blast.

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