or D.O.A.

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dead on arrival.
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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021


What does DOA mean?

DOA stands for dead on arrival. Outside of law enforcement and hospitals, DOA is used figuratively for a hopeless situation or something doomed from the start.

How is DOA pronounced?

[ dee-oh-ey ]

Where does DOA come from?

DOA, for dead on arrival, is found around 1920–30 to describe a victim who is discovered already dead upon the arrival of first responders, such as police officers, or EMTs and hospital workers. Brought in dead (BID) is a similar expression.

DOA had become common enough outside the law enforcement and medical communities to title a classic 1949 film noir about a man who’s been poisoned.

United Artists Corporation

Since then, DOA has seen other uses in popular culture, from band names to professional wrestling promotions to a brand of fishing lures. In 1970, the rock band Bloodrock released “D.O.A.” about a plane crash victim.

How is DOA used in real life?

DOA is widely used by police officers and medical personnel to characterize the status of a victim.

The figurative DOA is used, less morbidly and for dramatic effect, to describe hopeless situations or things that just never had a chance in the first place. They were metaphorically dead before they even started. It’s often used in politics for bills or proposals that never had a chance of succeeding.


More examples of DOA:

“With Philly’s construction tax ‘D.O.A.,’ Kenney proposes alternative”

—Holly Otterbein and Chris Brennan, Philadelphia Inquirer (headline), September 2018

How to use DOA in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for DOA


abbreviation for
dead on arrival
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

Medical definitions for DOA


dead on admission
dead on arrival
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.