dead weight

or deadweight

See synonyms for dead weight on Thesaurus.com
noun
  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

1
First recorded in 1650–60

Words Nearby dead weight

Dictionary.com 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

noun
  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.