- a person who deliberately avoids paying debts.
- a loafer; sponger.
- being a parent who neglects parental responsibilities, especially one who does not pay child support: deadbeat dads.
- Horology. noting any of various escapements acting without recoil of the locking parts from the shock of contact.
- Electricity. (of the indicator of an electric meter and the like) coming to a stop with little or no oscillation.
Origin of deadbeat
Related Words for dead beatexhausted, listless, weary, prostrate, beat, jaded, spent, worn, bushed, wasted, tuckered, enervated, bedraggled, overtired, dropping, dead, droopy, languid, pooped, worn-out
- informal tired out; exhausted
- informal a lazy or socially undesirable person
- mainly US
- a person who makes a habit of avoiding or evading his or her responsibilities or debts
- (as modifier)a deadbeat dad
- a high grade escapement used in pendulum clocks
- (modifier) (of a clock escapement) having a beat without any recoil
- (modifier) physics
- (of a system) returning to an equilibrium position with little or no oscillation
- (of an instrument or indicator) indicating a true reading without oscillation
"worthless sponging idler," 1863, American English slang, perhaps originally Civil War slang, from dead (adj.) + beat. Earlier used colloquially as an adjectival expression to mean "completely beaten" (1821), and perhaps the base notion is of "worn out, good for nothing." It is noted in a British source from 1861 as a term for "a pensioner."
In England "dead beat" means worn out, used up. ... But here, "dead beat" is used, as a substantive, to mean a scoundrel, a shiftless, swindling vagabond. We hear it said that such a man is a beat or a dead beat. The phrase thus used is not even good slang. It is neither humorous nor descriptive. There is not in it even a perversion of the sense of the words of which it is composed. Its origin is quite beyond conjecture. ["Americanisms," in "The Galaxy," January 1878]
It also was used of a kind of regulating mechanism in pendulum clocks.
Defeated; also exhausted. For example, That horse was dead beat before the race even began, or, as Charles Dickens put it in Martin Chuzzlewit (1843): “Pull off my boots for me ... I am quite knocked up. Dead beat.” [Slang; first half of 1800s]
Also, deadbeat. A lazy person or loafer; also, one who does not pay debts. For example, Her housemate knew she was a deadbeat, shirking her share of the chores, or He's a deadbeat; don't count on getting that money back. [Slang; second half of 1800s]