dead when born.
ineffectual from the beginning; abortive; fruitless: a stillborn plan of escape.

Origin of stillborn

First recorded in 1590–1600; still1 + born Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for stillborn

Contemporary Examples of stillborn

Historical Examples of stillborn

  • Surely this enterprise was not to be stillborn after all the signs of life that it had shown.

    The Blocking of Zeebrugge

    Alfred F. B. Carpenter

  • There is no problem in a stillborn babe, nor in a dead child.

  • The fate of the Savaii attempt I never heard; it seems to have been stillborn.

    A Footnote to History

    Robert Louis Stevenson

  • She is the mother of a stillborn child, whose body is to be thrown in the river.

    From the Caves and Jungles of Hindostan

    Helena Pretrovna Blavatsky

  • In short, the "American idea," government of the people by the people and for the people, would probably have been stillborn.

    The Ifs of History

    Joseph Edgar Chamberlin

British Dictionary definitions for stillborn



(of a fetus) dead at birth
(of an idea, plan, etc) fruitless; abortive; unsuccessful


a stillborn fetus or baby
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 stillborn

1590s, from still (adj.) + born.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

stillborn in Medicine




Dead at birth.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.