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dead weight

or dead·weight

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noun
  1. the heavy, unrelieved weight of anything inert: The dead weight of the bear's body was over 300 pounds.
  2. a heavy or oppressive burden or responsibility.
  3. the weight of a railroad car, truck, etc., as distinct from its load or contents.

Origin of dead weight

First recorded in 1650–60
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for dead weight

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • Koosje tried to lift her; but the dead-weight was beyond her, young and strong as she was.

  • The opposite of the "dead-weight seat" is what may be termed the "wabbling seat."

  • I don't know, Howard; what would you guess her dead-weight tonnage?

  • Two, I was told, were dead-weight men, and one a sort of higgling merchant.

    Rural Rides

    William Cobbett

  • She dragged and strained at his arms, trying to move him, but he was a dead-weight.

    Poppy

    Cynthia Stockley


British Dictionary definitions for dead weight

dead weight

noun
  1. a heavy weight or load
  2. an oppressive burden; encumbrance
  3. the difference between the loaded and the unloaded weights of a ship
  4. another name for dead load
  5. (in shipping) freight chargeable by weight rather than by bulk
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Idioms and Phrases with dead weight

dead weight

A heavy or oppressive burden, as in That police record will be a dead weight on his career. This term alludes to the unrelieved weight of an inert mass. [Early 1700s]

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.

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