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ne'er-do-well

[nair-doo-wel]
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noun
  1. an idle, worthless person; a person who is ineffectual, unsuccessful, or completely lacking in merit; good-for-nothing.
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adjective
  1. worthless; ineffectual; good-for-nothing.
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Origin of ne'er-do-well

First recorded in 1730–40

Synonyms

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1. idler, loafer, wastrel.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for ne'er-do-well

ne'er-do-well

noun
  1. an improvident, irresponsible, or lazy person
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adjective
  1. useless; worthlessyour ne'er-do-well schemes
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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 ne'er-do-well

n.

"one who is good for nothing," 1737, Scottish and northern English dialect, from contraction of phrase never do well. The adjective is first recorded 1773.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper