left or deserted, as by the owner or guardian; abandoned: a derelict ship.
neglectful of duty; delinquent; negligent.


Origin of derelict

1640–50; < Latin dērelictus forsaken (past participle of dērelinquere), equivalent to dē- de- + relictus past participle of relinquere to leave, abandon; see relinquish
Related formsder·e·lict·ly, adverbder·e·lict·ness, nounnon·der·e·lict, adjective, noun

Synonyms for derelict Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for derelict

Contemporary Examples of derelict

Historical Examples of derelict

  • Always glad to pick up a derelict, may be a chance for salvage, you know.

    Keziah Coffin

    Joseph C. Lincoln

  • The derelict's forehead is punched in, starred across, and rent diagonally.

    With The Night Mail

    Rudyard Kipling

  • We are going to help the derelict division of French in every way we can.

  • Meanwhile the ship drifted, a derelict on the face of the Pacific.

    The Pirate of Panama

    William MacLeod Raine

  • Had he been derelict in duty and let this lamb wander from the fold?

    A Little Girl in Old Detroit

    Amanda Minnie Douglas

British Dictionary definitions for derelict



deserted or abandoned, as by an owner, occupant, etc
falling into ruins; neglected; dilapidated
neglectful of duty or obligation; remiss


a person abandoned or neglected by society; a social outcast or vagrant
property deserted or abandoned by an owner, occupant, etc
a vessel abandoned at sea
a person who is neglectful of duty or obligation

Word Origin for derelict

C17: from Latin dērelictus forsaken, from dērelinquere to abandon, from de- + relinquere to leave
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 derelict

1640s, from Latin derelictus "solitary, deserted," past participle of dereliquere "to abandon, forsake, desert," from de- "entirely" + relinquere "leave behind" (see relinquish). Originally especially of vessels abandoned at sea or stranded on shore. As a noun, from 1660s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper