2016年11月8日 星期二

As dead as a doornail. Drop-dead, gorgeous, exquisite, flawless,

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.

hc: 過了一天才稍認真看此譯文,這玩意要解釋古公法,又,漏譯 "or the Country’s done for"。

Some say that TASCHEN publishes the most exquisite books on the planet.

It is a gorgeous spring day when I arrive at the coolest address in the universe: 1 Infinite Loop, Cupertino, Calif., where Apple has been headquartered since 1993. The campus, for such they call it, is enormous yet not big enough to contain Apple's current rate of expansion.

Japanese teen Yuzuru Hanyu sets world record while dominating short program ...
Washington Post
KENT, Wash. — Japanese teenager Yuzuru Hanyu dominated the short program Friday night at Skate America. The 17-year-old set a world record by earning 95.07 points for his flawless and thrilling routine. He skated last and received the loudest cheers, ...

    1. Dazzlingly beautiful or magnificent: wore a gorgeous Victorian gown.
    2. Characterized by magnificence or virtuosic brilliance: the pianist's gorgeous technique.
  1. Informal. Wonderful; delightful.
[Middle English gorgeouse, probably from Old French gorgias, jewelry-loving, elegant, from gorge, throat. See gorge.]
gorgeously gor'geous·ly adv.
gorgeousness gor'geous·ness n.

adj. Slang.
  1. Very impressive; spectacular: “a special video of the best-dressed women making drop-dead, knockout entrances at parties and fashion shows in Paris and New York” (André Leon Talley).
  2. Of or relating to a deadline that cannot be changed: a drop-dead date.

drop-dead gorgeous
extremely attractive:
He's not drop-dead gorgeous or anything, but he's quite nice.

drop-dead informal

a drop-dead person or piece of clothing is very beautiful
Her exquisite figure was shown off to the full in a drop-dead black
dress. [always before noun]
He turned up to the concert with a drop-dead gorgeous woman on his arm.
Drop-dead gorgeous
A Phrase A Week

Breathtakingly beautiful.


"Drop-dead gorgeous" seems to have been with us since just 1985. A piece about Michelle Pfeiffer in Time in February of that year says:

pfeiffer"Trim, smart and drop-dead gorgeous, Pfeiffer has been nibbling at stardom since her stints in Grease II and Scarface."

The phrase struck a chord and there are many references to it in newspapers and journals from very soon after that.

It didn't arrive out of the blue though. The term "drop dead", meaning excellent had been around since at least 1962. In the New York Herald-Tribune, Jan. 62, we have:

"Fashions from Florence not drop-dead. For almost the first time in history Simonetta failed to deliver an absolutely drop-dead collection."

It got picked up as an intensifier for various things, as here from the Washington Post, July 1980:

"For drop dead chic food, Harborplace has a sushi and tempura bar."

Of course, "drop dead" has also been used as a term demonstrating dislike for some time. This originated in the US in the 1930s.

Phrases tend to be coined to deal with things that people engage with frequently or consider important. There are hundreds of phrases to do with topics like god, money, sex etc. It's hardly surprising that death scores highly too and that 'dead' is one of the words that appears in many English idioms. Here's a selection that begin with a, b or c - there are many more:

As dead as a dodo
As dead as a doornail
As dead as mutton
A dead ringer
At the dead of night
Back from the dead
Better dead than red
Brain dead
Bring out your dead
Chivalry is not dead
Cut out the dead wood

The use of the word dead in English idioms is an example of how difficult a language it is to learn for non-native speakers. That's perhaps what could be expected from a language that has nine different ways to pronounce 'ough':

through - oo
though - o
thought - awt
tough - uff
plough - ow
thorough - uh
cough - off
hiccough - up
lough - ock

Even supposing someone understood the word 'dead' (and there are at least 31 meanings for dead just as an adjective), that doesn't help in understanding idioms. These rely on a knowledge of context that goes beyond the dictionary. For example, how is it that people who are "dead from the neck up" or "dead to the world", can be alive and well? Why is a "dead shot" to be admired when a "dead loss" isn't? Go into an English pub at closing time and you'll be asked, "are those drinks dead"? You might even hear someone claiming to be "in dead earnest".

If you learned your English as a first language, be thankful. If not, and when someone meets you they say "drop-dead gorgeous", don't be offended.


  1. Characterized by intricate and beautiful design or execution: an exquisite chalice.
  2. Of such beauty or delicacy as to arouse intense delight: an exquisite sunset. See synonyms at delicate.
  3. Excellent; flawless: plays the piano with exquisite technique.
  4. Acutely perceptive or discriminating: “Blind dolphins have been known to survive in the wild, guided by exquisite acoustic images of their prey” (Kenneth Browser).
  5. Intense; keen: suffered exquisite pain.
  6. Obsolete. Ingeniously devised or thought out.


  • 発音記号[flɔ'ːlis]

1 〈宝石・食器などが〉きずのない;〈空が〉一片の雲もない.
2 〈作品・人柄・などが〉非の打ちどころがない, 欠点のない.
[名]One who is excessively fastidious in dress, manners, or taste.
[Middle English exquisit, carefully chosen, from Latin exquīsītus, past participle of exquīrere, to search out : ex-, ex- + quaerere, to seek.]

As dead as a doornail.
dóor • nàil
dead as a doornail, (全1件)
(as) dead as a doornail
The expression was in widespread colloquial use in England by the 16th century, when Shakespeare gave these lines to the rebel leader Jack Cade in King Henry VI, Part 2, 1592:
Look on me well: I have eat no meat these five days; yet, come thou and thy five men, and if I do not leave you all as dead as a doornail, I pray God I may never eat grass more.
As dead as a doornailThere are several 'as dead as...' idioms, amongst the most notable examples being 'as dead as a dodo' and 'as dead as mutton'. Dodos and mutton are unquestionably dead, but why doornails are cited as a particular example of deadness isn't so obvious.
Doornails are the large-headed studs that were used in earlier times for strength and more recently as decoration.