- an idle, worthless person; a person who is ineffectual, unsuccessful, or completely lacking in merit; good-for-nothing.
- worthless; ineffectual; good-for-nothing.
Origin of ne'er-do-well
First recorded in 1730–40
SynonymsSee more synonyms for ne'er-do-well on Thesaurus.com
1. idler, loafer, wastrel.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
- an improvident, irresponsible, or lazy person
- useless; worthlessyour ne'er-do-well schemes
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
"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.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper