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dead weight

or deadweight

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 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for deadweight
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Yet the power (so defined as horse-power) required to raise a deadweight of 20 lbs.

    Unexplored Spain Abel Chapman
  • Blindly, I felt for the buttons on my dress, and buttoning I sank back in sleep again—the deadweight sleep of utter exhaustion.

    Hungry Hearts Anzia Yezierska
  • It was the sudden release of both the keel and deadweight of the projectile that had caused R19 to shoot up to the surface.

    A Sub and a Submarine Percy F. Westerman
  • The remainder were freighters, averaging about 5,000 deadweight tons each.

    Area Handbook for Romania

    Eugene K. Keefe, Donald W. Bernier, Lyle E. Brenneman, William Giloane, James M. Moore, and Neda A. Walpole
British Dictionary definitions for deadweight

dead weight

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
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Word Origin and History for deadweight

1650s, "weight of an inert body," from dead (adj.) + weight (n.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Idioms and Phrases with deadweight

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 Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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