terminating in a dead end: a dead-end street.
Also dead-end·ed. having no possibility for or hope of progress, advancement, etc.: a low-level, dead-end job.
leading a life in the slums: growing up as a tough dead-end kid.

verb (used without object)

to come to a dead end: The road dead-ends at the lake.

Origin of dead-end

First recorded in 1885–90

dead end


something, as a street or water pipe, that has no exit.
a position that offers no hope of progress; blind alley; cul-de-sac: His theory led him to a dead end.

Origin of dead end

First recorded in 1885–90 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for dead-end

Contemporary Examples of dead-end

Historical Examples of dead-end

  • Just about the stuffiest, dullest, dead-end in the universe.


    Harry Harrison

  • He was heading into a dead-end street, but there was an alley leading from it.


    Lester del Rey

  • But to nurse back to health a man who was to be court-martialled and shot, truly that seemed a dead-end occupation.

    The Backwash of War

    Ellen N. La Motte

  • Thirty-five years old and working a dead-end job like this—Sammy was thirty-five.


    Cory Doctorow

  • There is very little traffic across the frontier, so that Bridgetown station is a sort of dead-end.


    Owen Gregory

British Dictionary definitions for dead-end

dead end


another name for cul-de-sac
a situation in which further progress is impossible
dead-end (as modifier)a dead-end street; a dead-end job


(intr) mainly US and Canadian to come to a dead end
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-end

dead end


"closed end of a passage," 1886, from dead (adj.) + end (n.). Figurative use is attested from 1922. As an adjective, from 1928; as a verb, from 1921. Related: Deadender (by 1996).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with dead-end

dead end


A passage that has no exit, as in This street's a dead end, so turn back. [Late 1800s]


An impasse or blind alley, allowing no progress to be made. For example, This job is a dead end; I'll never be able to advance. [c. 1920]

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