See more synonyms for dead on
adjective, dead·er, dead·est.
  1. no longer living; deprived of life: dead people; dead flowers; dead animals.
  2. brain-dead.
  3. not endowed with life; inanimate: dead stones.
  4. resembling death; deathlike: a dead sleep; a dead faint.
  5. bereft of sensation; numb: He was half dead with fright. My leg feels dead.
  6. lacking sensitivity of feeling; insensitive: dead to the needs of others.
  7. incapable of being emotionally moved; unresponsive: dead to the nuances of the music.
  8. (of an emotion) no longer felt; ended; extinguished: a dead passion; dead affections.
  9. no longer current or prevalent, as in effect, significance, or practice; obsolete: a dead law; a dead controversy.
  10. no longer functioning, operating, or productive: a dead motor; a dead battery.
  11. not moving or circulating; stagnant; stale: dead water; dead air.
  12. utterly tired; exhausted: They felt dead from the six-hour trip.
  13. (of a language) no longer in use as a sole means of oral communication among a people: Latin is a dead language.
  14. without vitality, spirit, enthusiasm, or the like: a dead party.
  15. lacking the customary activity; dull; inactive: a dead business day.
  16. complete; absolute: dead silence; The plan was a dead loss.
  17. sudden or abrupt, as the complete stoppage of an action: The bus came to a dead stop.
  18. put out; extinguished: a dead cigarette.
  19. without resilience or bounce: a dead tennis ball.
  20. infertile; barren: dead land.
  21. exact; precise: the dead center of a circle.
  22. accurate; sure; unerring: a dead shot.
  23. direct; straight: a dead line.
  24. tasteless or flat, as a beverage: a dead soft drink.
  25. flat rather than glossy, bright, or brilliant: The house was painted dead white.
  26. without resonance; anechoic: dead sound; a dead wall surface of a recording studio.
  27. not fruitful; unproductive: dead capital.
  28. Law. deprived of civil rights so that one is in the state of civil death, especially deprived of the rights of property.
  29. Sports. out of play: a dead ball.
  30. (of a golf ball) lying so close to the hole as to make holing on the next stroke a virtual certainty.
  31. (of type or copy) having been used or rejected.
  32. Electricity.
    1. free from any electric connection to a source of potential difference and from electric charge.
    2. not having a potential different from that of the earth.
  33. Metallurgy. (of steel)
    1. fully killed.
    2. unresponsive to heat treatment.
  34. (of the mouth of a horse) no longer sensitive to the pressure of a bit.
  35. noting any rope in a tackle that does not pass over a pulley or is not rove through a block.
  1. the period of greatest darkness, coldness, etc.: the dead of night; the dead of winter.
  2. the dead, dead persons collectively: Prayers were recited for the dead.
  1. absolutely; completely: dead right; dead tired.
  2. with sudden and total stoppage of motion, action, or the like: He stopped dead.
  3. directly; exactly; straight: The island lay dead ahead.
  1. dead in the water, completely inactive or inoperable; no longer in action or under consideration: Our plans to expand the business have been dead in the water for the past two months.
  2. dead to rights, in the very act of committing a crime, offense, or mistake; red-handed.

Origin of dead

before 950; Middle English deed, Old English dēad; cognate with Gothic dauths, German tot, Old Norse daudhr; orig. past participle See die1
Related formsdead·ness, nounhalf-dead, adjective

Synonyms for dead

See more synonyms for on

Synonym study

1. Dead, deceased, extinct, lifeless refer to something that does not have or appear to have life. Dead is usually applied to something that had life but from which life is now gone: dead trees. Deceased, a more formal word than dead, is applied to human beings who no longer have life: a deceased member of the church. Extinct is applied to a species, genus, or the like, no member of which is any longer alive: Mastodons are now extinct. Lifeless is applied to something that may or may not have had life but that does not have it or appear to have it now: The lifeless body of a child was taken out of the water. Minerals consist of lifeless materials.

Antonyms for dead Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for dead

Contemporary Examples of dead

Historical Examples of dead

  • Afterward, I looked downward, and saw my dead body lying on a couch.


    Lydia Maria Child

  • The face of the maid that served him had been no heaven for the souls of dead flowers.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • Was his father still alive, or was this letter a communication from the dead?

    Brave and Bold

    Horatio Alger

  • His eyes were closed, his face a dead, chalky white, and his body hung limp.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • It seemed like one risen from the dead, for he supposed him lying at the bottom of the sea.

    Brave and Bold

    Horatio Alger

British Dictionary definitions for dead


    1. no longer alive
    2. (as noun)the dead
  1. not endowed with life; inanimate
  2. no longer in use, valid, effective, or relevanta dead issue; a dead language
  3. unresponsive or unaware; insensiblehe is dead to my strongest pleas
  4. lacking in freshness, interest, or vitalitya dead handshake
  5. devoid of physical sensation; numbhis gums were dead from the anaesthetic
  6. resembling death; deathlikea dead sleep
  7. no longer burning or hotdead coals
  8. (of flowers or foliage) withered; faded
  9. (prenominal) (intensifier)a dead stop; a dead loss
  10. informal very tired
  11. electronics
    1. drained of electric charge; fully dischargedthe battery was dead
    2. not connected to a source of potential difference or electric charge
  12. lacking acoustic reverberationa dead sound; a dead surface
  13. sport (of a ball, etc) out of play
  14. unerring; accurate; precise (esp in the phrase a dead shot)
  15. lacking resilience or bouncea dead ball
  16. printing
    1. (of type) set but no longer needed for useCompare standing (def. 7)
    2. (of copy) already composed
  17. not yielding a return; idledead capital
  18. informal certain to suffer a terrible fate; doomedyou're dead if your mother catches you at that
  19. (of colours) not glossy or bright; lacklustre
  20. stagnantdead air
  21. military shielded from view, as by a geographic feature or environmental conditiona dead zone; dead space
  22. dead as a doornail informal completely dead
  23. dead from the neck up informal stupid or unintelligent
  24. dead in the water informal unsuccessful, and with little hope of future successthe talks are now dead in the water
  25. dead to the world informal unaware of one's surroundings, esp fast asleep or very drunk
  26. leave for dead
    1. to abandon
    2. informalto surpass or outdistance by far
  27. wouldn't be seen dead in informal to refuse to wear or to go to
  1. a period during which coldness, darkness, or some other quality associated with death is at its most intensethe dead of winter
  1. (intensifier)dead easy; stop dead; dead level
  2. dead on exactly right
Derived Formsdeadness, noun

Word Origin for dead

Old English dēad; related to Old High German tōt, Old Norse dauthr; see die 1
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

Word Origin and History for dead

Old English dead "dead," also "torpid, dull;" of water, "still, standing," from Proto-Germanic *dauthaz (cf. Old Saxon dod, Danish død, Swedish död, Old Frisian dad, Middle Dutch doot, Dutch dood, Old High German tot, German tot, Old Norse dauðr, Gothic dauþs "dead"), from PIE *dhou-toz-, from root *dheu- (3) "to die" (see die (v.)).

Meaning "insensible" is first attested early 13c. Of places, "inactive, dull," from 1580s. Used from 16c. in adjectival sense of "utter, absolute, quite" (cf. dead drunk first attested 1590s; dead heat, 1796). As an adverb, from late 14c. Dead on is 1889, from marksmanship. Dead duck is from 1844. Dead letter is from 1703, used of laws lacking force as well as uncollected mail. Phrase in the dead of the night first recorded 1540s.

For but ich haue bote of mi bale I am ded as dorenail (c.1350).

Dead soldier "emptied liquor bottle" is from 1913 in that form; the image is older:

Dead man, or Dead marine, a colloquialism for an empty bottle, possibly in humorous recognition of the fact that the spirits have departed. But the French also have the same phrase, un corps mort, a dead body, for which there can be no punning pretext. [Walsh, 1892]
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

dead in Medicine


  1. Having lost life; no longer alive.
  2. Lacking feeling or sensitivity; unresponsive.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Idioms and Phrases with dead


In addition to the idioms beginning with dead

  • dead ahead
  • dead and buried
  • dead as a doornail
  • dead beat
  • dead drunk
  • dead duck
  • dead end
  • dead from the neck up
  • dead heat
  • dead horse
  • dead in one's tracks
  • dead in the water
  • dead letter
  • dead loss
  • dead man
  • dead of
  • dead on one's feet
  • dead ringer
  • dead set against
  • dead soldier
  • dead tired
  • dead to rights
  • dead to the world
  • dead weight

also see:

  • beat a dead horse
  • caught dead
  • cut someone dead
  • drop dead
  • knock dead
  • more dead than alive
  • over my dead body
  • quick and the dead
  • stop cold (dead)
  • to wake the dead

Also see underdeath.

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