Definition of derelict in English:



  • 1In a very poor condition as a result of disuse and neglect.

    ‘a derelict Georgian mansion’
    ‘the barge lay derelict for years’
    • ‘The most notable of these barriers is a complicated system of land ownership, poor roads and a derelict telecommunications network.’
    • ‘The ground floor of the derelict building was pretty much bare of anything other than broken junk and graffiti.’
    • ‘The derelict barn she bought 16 years ago for £26,000 is now a palatial house valued at about £750,000, with two large wings.’
    • ‘The derelict condition of the Market House has been criticised by the town council.’
    • ‘A call has been made to officials of the Town Council to take action against the owners of five houses which are in a derelict condition.’
    • ‘Residents fed up with youths hanging around the streets, derelict shops and a general sense of neglect have taken their future into their own hands.’
    • ‘The former area of derelict grassland has already been transformed into an accessible area where plants and wildlife can thrive and local people can enjoy the natural environment’
    • ‘At 8pm as thick black smoke bellowed from the derelict building, police issued an urgent health warning, instructing residents to stay indoors and shut their windows.’
    • ‘The yards are full of derelict cars, broken-down furniture, sofas with the stuffing bursting out.’
    • ‘In 1996, a huge residential community was envisaged in the derelict area, with the aim of housing local poor residents.’
    • ‘However it remained unoccupied for a number of years and had fallen into a derelict state.’
    • ‘It will not only record, but also highlight the true extent of empty buildings, derelict shops, empty houses, other signs of neglect and lack of important services.’
    • ‘The aim is to bring scruffy, disused areas of land - including a disused tip, a former power station and a derelict canal - back into community use.’
    • ‘Following a few weeks of begging on the streets and sleeping in derelict buildings, he falls in with a friendly group of squatters.’
    • ‘‘We have clients buying derelict farmhouses and old houses which would otherwise be left to fall down,’ Anderson said.’
    • ‘Between those dates the appeal site had been in an apparently derelict condition with 2 large black doors facing the street.’
    • ‘Perhaps if the derelict sites had been cleared and tided before prospective investors in the proposed retail outlets viewed the site, it might have been a different story.’
    • ‘The derelict mansion was a block from the address where they had told Scott to meet.’
    • ‘Conditions at the hotel were so derelict the coach lamented it was the worst he had ever seen.’
    • ‘The majority of them were bought either in completely derelict condition, or as a collection of rusty parts.’
    dilapidated, ramshackle, run down, broken-down, worn out, tumbledown, in disrepair, in a state of disrepair, in ruins, ruined, falling to pieces, falling apart
    disused, abandoned, deserted, discarded, rejected, forsaken, cast off, relinquished, ownerless
    unsafe, dangerous, hazardous, perilous, precarious, insecure, treacherous
    View synonyms
  • 2North American Shamefully negligent of one's duties or obligations.

    ‘he was derelict in his duty to his country’
    • ‘What other cause finds you derelict in your responsibilities to your own people?’
    • ‘Some held the two local commanders derelict in their duty; others concluded that they were simply guilty of errors of judgment.’
    • ‘In my view he would be derelict in his duty if he didn't have a contingency plan.’
    • ‘Further, any judge who allows a conviction to stand when it's evident the defendant did not commit a crime is derelict in his duty.’
    • ‘The commission found that each had been derelict in his duty.’
    negligent, neglectful, remiss, lax, careless, sloppy, slipshod, slack, irresponsible, delinquent
    View synonyms


  • 1A person without a home, job, or property.

    ‘derelicts who could fit all their possessions in a paper bag’
    • ‘Even if your slate's totally clean, people are apt to lose trust in you because you're dating such a derelict.’
    • ‘The fighting became so intense it disturbed the derelicts outside, who began screaming and pounding on the door.’
    • ‘He supposed that in the dark, the fact that the block was deserted of all but derelicts might not be noticeable.’
    • ‘Under the steel and cement, the derelicts lie happy and drunk, their gaze set on the future.’
    • ‘A group of vagabonds and derelicts inhabit a shelter in Moscow, presided over by a fanatical leader who preaches the love of everyone for everyone.’
    • ‘Head out across the loopway where derelicts collect and sit with them remembering the blues they heard and steal their drink.’
    • ‘The only regular visitors are the labourers and derelicts who drop in to spend some time before the radio kiosk or the television set.’
    • ‘The family could not believe that the body was considered to be that of a derelict at the funeral home.’
    • ‘But the majority of menial workers and derelicts are, going by empirical evidence, first or second-generation immigrants with little in the way of hopes or prospects.’
    • ‘Afterwards, we blundered through the back streets and alleys, and I met the everyday denizens, including the derelicts.’
    • ‘How can you expect to have anything but a diving trend when your educated citizens are worse than the derelicts?’
    • ‘Following a homeless ‘state of emergency’, the federal government created a $753-million fund to get derelicts across Canada out of the dirt and into an edifice.’
    • ‘His passion for helping the underprivileged, the derelicts of society, and for world evangelization was built upon his passion for Christ.’
    • ‘Ultimately, Billy is said to have become a derelict, presumably because he was unable to work in the cattle industry again.’
    • ‘They are workers, or spouses, curmudgeons, derelicts, or hopeless romantics.’
    • ‘The woman was a bit startled by this proclamation, but she was equally intrigued by the derelict's intuition, since she was indeed single.’
    • ‘He also claims he once distributed fake Booker Prize dinner invitations to down-and-outs, promising free booze, in the hope of causing mayhem when the derelicts tried to crash the do.’
    • ‘Society, it transpires, hasn't turned him into a derelict, he's managed that all by himself.’
    • ‘People called bums and derelicts in the 20s and 30s had some of the best-paying, most secure jobs in industrial America by the 50s and 60s.’
    • ‘From a distance he looks like a wreck, a derelict.’
    tramp, vagrant, vagabond, down and out, homeless person, drifter, person of no fixed abode, person of no fixed address, knight of the road
    View synonyms
  • 2A ship or other piece of property abandoned by the owner and in poor condition.

    ‘she had been a derelict recommissioned for this journey’
    • ‘Diaz maneuvered the tug underneath the cruiser and traversed the length until they were ahead of the derelict.’
    • ‘Up to a dozen geosynchronous satellites go out of service every year, and there are now several hundred derelicts in the disposal orbit.’
    • ‘Meanwhile, the U.S. Coast Guard has the authority to move derelicts that pose a hazard to navigation, but not to dispose of them.’
    • ‘With a secure airlock established between the two ships, the Scout transferred over to the derelict.’
    • ‘If they can keep the boats from becoming derelicts, it means that much more money in the budget to do dredging and other debris removal.’
    • ‘In 1881, the schooner Ellen Austin, bound for London, discovered a derelict adrift in the Sargasso.’
    • ‘Eerily empty travel zones are full of ice, gas, derelicts and asteroids of various types and colors.’
    • ‘They both looked like abandoned derelicts compared with the other great warships being serviced in the yard.’
    • ‘We ran into the docking bay and could not believe the decrepit derelict of a ship that he had waiting for us.’
    • ‘You wouldn't believe the bureaucratic hoops you need successfully to jump when you're renovating a derelict.’
    • ‘He circled the shattered derelict once more and finally settled his craft down in an open spot.’
    • ‘This is all set on a backdrop of a larger presence within the galaxy, an ancient civilization that left floating derelicts in space.’
    • ‘The Council and developers are following the example of towns and cities across the country where areas becoming derelicts as they await redevelopment are being turned into visitor attractions.’
    • ‘It's a little known fact that the Ancient Greeks didn't live in complete buildings like you or me; they lived in derelicts and rubble, in houses with no roofs and vines growing up the walls.’
    • ‘Vale watched helplessly as a series of explosions reduced the once-proud cruiser to a blackened derelict.’


Mid 17th century: from Latin derelictus ‘abandoned’, past participle of derelinquere, from de- ‘completely’ + relinquere ‘forsake’.