also door-nail, "large-headed nail used for studding doors for strength or ornament," late 14c.; see door (n.) + nail (n.). The figurative expression dead as a doornail is attested as early as the word itself.
But ich haue bote of mi bale bi a schort time, I am ded as dore-nail. ("William of Palerne," c. 1375).
Also in Middle English as a symbol of deafness. Compare key-cold "lifeless, inanimate, devoid of heat, cold as a metal key" (1520).
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