- the heavy, unrelieved weight of anything inert: The dead weight of the bear's body was over 300 pounds.
- a heavy or oppressive burden or responsibility.
- 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
But he is dead wrong to suggest that government is simply redistributive or worse, a dead-weight drag on the economy.An Article That Made Me Sad, and a Little Response to Readers
June 12, 2012
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."The American Horsewoman
I don't know, Howard; what would you guess her dead-weight tonnage?Fighting Byng
Two, I was told, were dead-weight men, and one a sort of higgling merchant.Rural Rides
She dragged and strained at his arms, trying to move him, but he was a dead-weight.Poppy
- a heavy weight or load
- an oppressive burden; encumbrance
- the difference between the loaded and the unloaded weights of a ship
- another name for dead load
- (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
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.