nail in the coffin


(another, or the last, or the final) nail in someone’s coffin


  • an action/event that will help bring about the death, end, or failure of something or someone
  • something that could contribute harm or even destroy the person or thing referred to

Example Sentences

  1. She was late for the fourth day in a row. It will be another nail in her coffin when the boss hears about it.
  2. Cassandra’s husband has cheated on her again. It must be another nail in the coffin for them.
  3. The company lost the contract, and I think it will be the last nail in their coffin as they were already struggling.
  4. His lungs were weak from years of smoking, so to catch pneumonia was a final nail in his coffin.
  5. The decision to stop killing animals for fashion is yet another nail in the fur trade coffin.
  6. The other nail in the coffin of shopping malls – is the rise of e-commerce, particularly after the pandemic.
  7. During the pandemic banning tourism was one more nail in the coffin for airline companies.
  8. Abraham Lincoln had hit the nail in the coffin with his statement.

Hit the nail in the coffin
There is another similar but a little weird expression, “hit the nail in the coffin”, which is a mashup of two different phrases – “nail in the coffin” and “hit the nail on the head.” But in terms of meanings, it’s a synonym of “hit the nail on the head.” See example number 8 above.


Quite a literal phrase alluding to a corpse being nailed into a wooden coffin. Each nail is trapping them in, and the final one is very significant.

It has been in use since at least the mid-1700s. Here is an extract from The Taunton Courier (Somerset, England) Sept 1812:

“Mr. Elton, who, by exposing the obliquity of his personal feelings and the dereliction of his public duty, has clenched a nail in the coffin of the Political Register.”

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