- 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
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
Related Wordshitch, flaw, barrier, restriction, handicap, drawback, setback, snag, difficulty, inhibition, obstacle, hurdle, hazard, burden, defect, deterrent, bottleneck, disadvantage, encumbrance, blockade
Examples from the Web for dead weight
But he is dead wrong to suggest that government is simply redistributive or worse, a dead-weight drag on the economy.An Article That Made Me Sad, and a Little Response to Readers
June 12, 2012
Koosje tried to lift her; but the dead-weight was beyond her, young and strong as she was.
The opposite of the "dead-weight seat" is what may be termed the "wabbling seat."The American Horsewoman
I don't know, Howard; what would you guess her dead-weight tonnage?Fighting Byng
Two, I was told, were dead-weight men, and one a sort of higgling merchant.Rural Rides
She dragged and strained at his arms, trying to move him, but he was a dead-weight.Poppy
- 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
Idioms and Phrases with 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.