dead weight

or deadweight

See synonyms for dead weight on
  1. the heavy, unrelieved weight of anything inert: The dead weight of the bear's body was over 300 pounds.

  2. a heavy or oppressive burden or responsibility.

  1. the weight of a railroad car, truck, etc., as distinct from its load or contents.

Origin of dead weight

First recorded in 1650–60

Words Nearby dead weight Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use dead weight in a sentence

  • She estimated it may take at least two years to clear out dead weight from the department and make the staff functional once more.

    Civil Wrongs | Benjamin Sarlin | September 2, 2009 | THE DAILY BEAST
  • But for the most part even industry and endowment were powerless against the inertia of custom and the dead-weight of environment.

  • In the next few days they stowed some four thousand tons' dead weight into the Dimbula, and took her out from Liverpool.

  • The tackle, hooked on to the stern of the sunken yacht, was at first as so much dead weight on their hands.

    The Rival Campers Afloat | Ruel Perley Smith
  • But I tell you it was hard work getting him up, he was such a dead weight!

    We Ten | Lyda Farrington Kraus
  • Each man gazed on the other, trying to find some word that might be fitting, but each muted by the dead weight of half a century.

    Cursed | George Allan England

British Dictionary definitions for dead weight

dead weight

  1. a heavy weight or load

  2. an oppressive burden; encumbrance

  1. the difference between the loaded and the unloaded weights of a ship

  2. another name for dead load

  3. (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

Other Idioms and Phrases with dead weight

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.