Washington Post (June 17) reports Barnes & Noble’s offer of tablet software update at a surprisingly cheap price under the title, “It’s official: Nook Tablets are now ridiculously cheap."

It says:

“(There are) rumors that the company might pull back on hardware in favor of selling content for other companies’ gadgets, and therefore (lots of folks) wonder if it’s holding a fire sale so it can exit the tablet market. Could be. But it’s also possible that B&N is trying to clear out its stock because it has new models in the works.

In either case, I don’t think people who buy a Nook HD or Nook HD+ are going to end up with a doorstop. Now that the tablets work with Google Play services, they’ll be useful no matter what Barnes & Noble ends up doing.”

I can’t pick the exact meaning of “end up with a doorstop.” "Doorstop" must be a metonym of something. I first took it for “doorstep.”

Does it mean a makeshift solution for sweeping out the company’s surplus inventory? Is this a set of phase? What does it mean?

  • 1
    there is a longer form of this phrase, "an expensive doorstop", that seems to be out of use; you might also see terms "paperweight" or "bookends", with the same meaning (the device is only useful for purposes of sitting around being heavy.) – KutuluMike Jun 22 '13 at 4:47
  • This is a better question for the English Language Learners site. – Kaz Jun 22 '13 at 16:55
  • ell.stackexchange.com – Kaz Jun 22 '13 at 16:58

The term doorstop refers to a door-stopping device, “Any device or object used to halt the motion of a door, as a large or heavy object, a wedge, or some piece of hardware”. Like the terms boat anchor (“something obsolete, useless, and cumbersome [whose only] use is to be thrown into the water as a boat mooring”) and brick (“(technology, slang) An electronic device, especially a heavy box-shaped one, that has become non-functional or obsolete”), doorstop can be used to refer to obsolete and useless equipment.

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    Right. The quotation alludes to the potential obsolescence of the Nook as leading to its becoming a doorstop. The less-than-deal aspect of this particular instance of usage is that, whereas dead or obsolete desktop PC boxes make very functional (though rather large) doorstops, a tablet/e-reader like the Nook can't. It's an instance where the cliche has lost its real-world mooring. – Sven Yargs Jun 21 '13 at 21:38
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    Actually, if you have two bricked tablets, or one of them plus a small prop like an AA battery, they make perfectly serviceable inclined-plane doorstops. – James Waldby - jwpat7 Jun 21 '13 at 21:41
  • You gotta be one of those old-fashioned guys who got his Computer Science degree in Engineering School rather than Business School. :) – StoneyB on hiatus Jun 21 '13 at 21:48
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    Come to think of it, a Nook would also work well as a doorstop if you attached it to one of those cheap plastic doorstops. – Sven Yargs Jun 21 '13 at 22:31
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    Huh. I don't usually hear "doorstop" used like that. For the intended meaning, the word "paperweight" is more common, isn't it? – Izkata Jun 22 '13 at 3:13

A doorstop is a weighted item that holds open a door. A common doorstop (in simpler times) was a brick.

The reference to electronic devices as doorstops signifies that they have no more functionality than a brick. In general, it refers to obsolescence - the previous functionality of the device is long since gone, and you might as well use it as a doorstop. This was more obvious when electronic devices weighed more than a few ounces.

An interesting related usage is the verb, to brick, which means to render an electronic device useless, so that an unauthorized user cannot access the sensitive information of the owner. This is accomplished through remote software that renders the device no better than a doorstop.

  • 4
    When I've heard "to brick" it's been in the context of someone installing new firmware or overclocking it or something else where the bricking is a possible unintended consequence. – prosfilaes Jun 22 '13 at 4:03

The phrase means that the item in question is a piece of useless junk, having no more value than, say, its weight. Not being heavy enough to be used as a doorstop, however, the Nook could be useful as a paper weight, another idiom for something of little or no value that simply prevents papers from being blown off your desk. For example:

"My Playstation is fried and would cost too much to fix. I use it now as a paper weight."

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    Though I do agree that there is irony in the answer's location and use of grammar, it is still relevant and potentially helpful in answering the question. Therefore, I believe, it does not deserve negative points. +1 – Daniel G. Wilson Jun 22 '13 at 13:41
  • @NateEldredge Y'know, you could fix the grammar, punctuation, and capitalization. Like rhetorician did. It's part of why anyone can edit answers on the StackExchange sites. – Izkata Jun 23 '13 at 6:38

In this case, "doorstop" means "useless item".

A bit like when people say a terrible letter is "fuel for the fire".

I would say it is a form of sarcasm. To imply one would use a complex item for a simple (and perhaps degrading) purpose; one which is vastly different to why it was created and probably insult whoever made it.

I'm sure you get the idea by now, just thought I would add a more concise and direct answer which gets to the point on line 1.

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