Definition of dead in English:



  • 1No longer alive.

    ‘a dead body’
    [as complement] ‘he was shot dead’
    • ‘The driver didn't know whether the person he hit was dead or alive.’
    • ‘An ambulance was called but the boy was pronounced dead on arrival at hospital.’
    • ‘My father is long dead and his death set me free, so it bothers me that he and his problem can still affect my adult life.’
    • ‘I charged through the house and saw the girl lying dead on the floor.’
    • ‘Our loved ones are only truly dead if they are forgotten.’
    • ‘An emotionally distant scientist, Banner believes that his father is dead.’
    • ‘We need to figure out how we're going to handle what could be many hundreds of thousands of dead bodies.’
    • ‘It was believed she had been dead for around two hours before they arrived.’
    • ‘Fear of dead bodies is a known phobia which is surprisingly common.’
    • ‘He's refusing to answer questions about the crash that left ten people dead.’
    • ‘And how many graphic pictures of dead bodies and desperate survivors do we need to see?’
    • ‘He said the victims were carrying a dead person to a nearby cemetery for burial when their vehicle came under fire.’
    • ‘We waited what seemed an eternity not knowing if she would come back dead or alive.’
    • ‘The men persuaded the woman they had been sent to remove a dead pigeon from her water tank.’
    • ‘The family's pet bull mastiff dog was shot dead by the gunman.’
    • ‘Paramedics tried to treat the victim but he was declared dead at the scene.’
    • ‘Tests conducted on dead birds in those counties were positive for the virus.’
    • ‘Just a few metres away from where I slept were all the dead bodies.’
    • ‘I found my father nearly dead, lying in the mud.’
    • ‘A clause in the current scheme means the spouse of a dead officer would have to give up their pension if they remarried or decided to live with someone else.’
    deceased, expired, departed, gone, no more, passed on, passed away
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1(of a part of the body) having lost sensation; numb.
      • ‘His foot is dead and they need to operate immediately to save what's left of his leg.’
      • ‘Have you ever woken up with a dead arm?’
      • ‘She said that her left leg had gone dead and that she had fallen out of bed.’
      • ‘He still has some days when his arm is dead, and he had a scare last week when his shoulder popped during practice.’
      numb, benumbed, deadened, desensitized, insensible, insensate, unfeeling
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2Having or displaying no emotion, sympathy, or sensitivity.
      ‘a cold, dead voice’
      • ‘His eyes are dead, as black as the depths of the sea, glancing at us as his halo of white-transparent hair swirls around his head.’
      • ‘The grin was gone, and his voice had gone so emotionally dead that it was almost frightening.’
      • ‘But now that I am older and emotionally dead inside, these things bother me less and less.’
      • ‘Humour is actually a very important part of life and in fact you're dead without it.’
      • ‘But now that he was out, he sounded as dead as he had at the first meeting with his lawyer.’
      • ‘All the emotion had left her voice, and it was empty, dead, and lifeless, a mirror of her soul.’
      • ‘He felt dead and dull inside, like an electric toy with the batteries removed.’
      • ‘Her emerald eyes were wide open, cold and almost dead.’
      • ‘He turns me around, jerking my chin up to look into his dead, black eyes.’
      • ‘When a woman's voice from a car alongside him calls his name, his face is emotionless, blank, dead.’
      • ‘The warmth from that simple touch and kiss thawed his cold dead heart back to life.’
      • ‘Anyone who can listen to Mozart's Requiem Mass without getting shivers up the spine is either physically or emotionally dead.’
      • ‘A person who has always been truly alone is one who will be emotionally dead.’
      • ‘His voice sounded dead even to himself and he wondered why he was still talking.’
      emotionless, unemotional, unfeeling, impassive, unresponsive, insensitive, indifferent, dispassionate, inexpressive, wooden, stony, cold, frigid, inert
      View synonyms
    3. 1.3No longer current, relevant, or important.
      ‘pollution had become a dead issue’
      • ‘Browsing through the diverse range of opinions posted by readers, it is hard to believe that the issue is dead.’
      • ‘Images move you up the television news agenda; without camera access, my friend, your issue is dead.’
      • ‘This brought tears to my eyes and I thought of a headline in your paper some months ago saying community living is dead.’
      • ‘He thought that it was a dead issue, he had dealt with that.’
      • ‘The dining room is dead and the kitchen is the new hub of the home according to Yorkshire kitchen manufacturer Omega.’
      • ‘Despite that result, however, there are indications that the issue is not completely dead.’
      • ‘Our voters confirmed that Europe was far from being a dead and done issue for any party.’
      • ‘Just because the war is to all intents and purposes over doesn't mean that this is a dead issue.’
      • ‘The interim economic plan, including the third currency, was dead before it was born.’
      • ‘This demonstration shows that the movement is not at all dead, but alive and growing.’
      • ‘Today, with the Warsaw Pact dead, France can safely make its reach for grandeur.’
      • ‘In any case, unless there's some clear photo from tonight, I think this issue may be dead.’
      • ‘Financial services is a dead industry and cannot be revived anywhere close to what it was.’
      • ‘The postwar alliance that once structured and indeed defined our world is dead.’
      • ‘The Atlantic alliance that won the Cold War is virtually dead.’
      • ‘Which is not to say that the well-wrought traditional panto is entirely dead.’
      • ‘I suppose that means that in one small way, chivalry isn't dead.’
      • ‘Now that the Eastern Corridor is a dead issue, dramatic action needs to be taken to address the transport woes in the region.’
      • ‘The Goth scene is dead and the venues are only open so people can enjoy the music and dance and be with their friends and have a good time.’
    4. 1.4Devoid of living things.
      ‘a dead planet’
      • ‘It was pointed out at the meeting that any area devoid of people is dead.’
      • ‘Sometimes we throw our seeds to them, but our efforts seem hopeless since their soil is barren, empty and dead.’
      • ‘It was a dry and dead place with almost nothing living out here but a few cacti and some small, prickly bushes.’
      • ‘The land is dead, its animals gone, its cities covered in ash, most of its people killed by violence or disease.’
      • ‘In 45,000 million years from now, it will turn into a small dead globe.’
      • ‘Our view of Mars has changed dramatically from that of a cold, dry, geologically dead world to a warm, wet, oasis where life may have arisen and may yet thrive in certain locations.’
      • ‘As the rather clichéd but very true saying goes, there are no jobs on a dead planet.’
      extinguished, quenched, quashed, quelled, suppressed, smothered, stifled
      barren, lifeless, bare, empty, desolate, sterile
      View synonyms
    5. 1.5Resembling death.
      ‘a dead faint’
      • ‘As soon as the kiss ended, Jane collapsed in a dead faint on the front steps.’
      • ‘She looks up one last time before tumbling across Hannah's lap in a dead faint.’
      • ‘She sank to the floor in a dead faint and I picked the small, fragile woman up and went into the cozy little house.’
      • ‘I never got any farther than saying the name, for my mother had collapsed in a dead faint.’
      • ‘She shuddered once then fell into a dead faint as she was dragged into the shadows.’
      • ‘Others simply dropped to the ground in a dead faint.’
      • ‘They both fell to the ground in a dead faint, taking their chairs with them.’
      • ‘It hit her in the forehead, leaving a bloody mark as she fell into a dead faint.’
      • ‘He was a guy who could just walk into a room and make all of the girls fall into a dead faint.’
      • ‘A nurse announced the time of death and Carly fell to the floor in a dead faint.’
      • ‘They gazed at each other for a few seconds before falling into a dead faint.’
      • ‘He gave a loud, startling, heart-wrenching cry and fell backwards in a dead faint.’
    6. 1.6(of a place or time) characterized by a lack of activity or excitement.
      ‘Brussels isn't dead after dark, if you know where to look’
      • ‘Got sent home early since the place was dead, a nice change to actually get the last bus.’
      • ‘As he walked the dead streets he was aware of tears running down his cheeks.’
      • ‘When he was singing decent songs he could send electricity through those dead restaurants he was playing.’
      • ‘The waterfront was also dead, an empty stretch of dock littered with bits of rope, fish, and other such trash.’
      • ‘I look at the coverage on the news, and the streets look empty and dead.’
      • ‘But you can always count on some activity even mid week where other places are dead.’
      • ‘In the end I only got one opportunity to go in to this place, and the night I was in there was absolutely dead, no-one else at all.’
      • ‘I do not know how many members have visited the little town of Havelock, but 15 years ago that town was dead.’
      • ‘Turned out the place was dead, hardly worth turning up for.’
      • ‘They were still in the city centre and at this time of the evening every building looked empty and dead to Alexa's desperately searching eyes.’
      • ‘Camembert, once a dead town, had suddenly become very lively indeed.’
      • ‘The degree of public support these workers had was an amazing spectacle - the stores were absolutely dead.’
      • ‘St. George's is normally pretty dead on a Friday night, but last night the streets were crowded.’
      uneventful, uninteresting, unexciting, uninspiring, dull, boring, flat, quiet, sleepy, slow, stale, humdrum, tame, pedestrian, lacklustre, lifeless
      View synonyms
    7. 1.7(of money) not financially productive.
      • ‘All this though doesn't change the fact that my rent will always be dead money.’
      • ‘Start a pension scheme and try to get on the property ladder as quickly as possible, as rent is dead money.’
      • ‘This is dead finance as the loss is far greater than the gain and gets worse by the hour.’
      • ‘The pension costs mean that an increasing slice of the force's budget is dead money which has no impact on front-line policing.’
      • ‘Many economists regard defence outlays as dead money, money that produces nothing of measurable value.’
      • ‘Renting in Swindon is quite expensive and it's dead money really but I'd rather compromise on that and see the world instead.’
      • ‘Government money is dead money, ring-fenced and controlled so that every penny can meet the rigours of post - audit.’
      • ‘Is this dead money as I am sure there are many people in the same situation as me.’
      • ‘You can't go on paying out dead money every month on something you don't own.’
      • ‘The money is dead money unless we have some support from them.’
    8. 1.8(of sound) without resonance; dull.
      • ‘To locate dry rot, tap questionable areas with a hammer and listen for a hollow, dead sound.’
      • ‘However over-ripe melons make that same dead sound, so this isn't the most reliable test.’
      • ‘I let the bag drop with a dead thud to the floor.’
    9. 1.9(of a color) not glossy or bright.
      • ‘The flats were dead black in contrast to the polished edges, almost seeming to draw the light in.’
      • ‘Only at that point was there any roughening of the dead black surface.’
      • ‘Students tinted the surface ground with a dead color, like brownish-green.’
      • ‘They were both, I found from careful measurements, of precisely the same dimensions and surface area, and each presented the same dull dead black surface.’
    10. 1.10(of a piece of equipment) no longer functioning, especially because of a fault.
      ‘the phone had gone dead’
      • ‘The line suddenly went dead on us around 4 days ago and came back only this afternoon.’
      • ‘The first match began and before the commentator could say hello to the live audience, one of the game monitors went dead.’
      • ‘Sure enough, she came in to work the next day, and the network was dead.’
      • ‘I picked up the mike to tell Mann my problem, but the transmitter had gone dead.’
      • ‘The television was dead and would not respond at all.’
      • ‘The pair were telling him what they had found on the planet when the transmission went dead.’
      • ‘I did finally find a link that connected to the same dead server I had been trying to access.’
      • ‘Before Kat could respond, the line went dead and the faint beeping of the phone began to bother her.’
      • ‘Don't sign any software agreement until you have read the fine print carefully, otherwise you could one day find yourself with a very dead computer.’
      not working, out of order, out of commission, inoperative, inactive, ineffective, in disrepair, in a state of disrepair, broken, broken-down, malfunctioning, defective
      View synonyms
    11. 1.11(of an electric circuit or conductor) carrying or transmitting no current.
      ‘the batteries are dead’
      • ‘You can create closed loops and boxes without short circuits by using dead connectors.’
      • ‘Our techie found that the issue was a dead battery on the upstairs server.’
      • ‘Moving the crossbeam was the most desirable option, and the power lines appeared dead.’
      • ‘When the boat got back to the harbor after the snorkeling trip, our rental car's battery was dead.’
      • ‘I came back last week from a spell in Istanbul to discover that the power in my flat was dead.’
    12. 1.12No longer burning.
      ‘the fire had been dead for some days’
      • ‘The staff had left, together with the jeep, and around the dead fire were the empty Genghis Khan bottles.’
      • ‘Jim stepped away from the cold embers of the dead fire and walked into the jungle.’
      • ‘When she arrived at his house he wasn't there - the fire in the hearth was dead and he'd gone off into the bush.’
      • ‘But the next day, the fire was dead. With no one to feed it, it went out while men were sleeping.’
    13. 1.13(of air or water) not circulating; stagnant.
      • ‘What I'd mistaken for a living stream just has in it fish that thrive in dead water.’
      • ‘I returned to my musky motel room where the air was dead and I had been breathing other people's sweat.’
      • ‘When the current slackened, and there was dead water, with no movement at all for a few minutes at high tide, these fish would swim on the surface with dorsal and tail fins right out of the water.’
    14. 1.14(of a glass or bottle) empty or no longer being used.
      • ‘The place is covered in empty pizza boxes, dead bottles of booze and cigarette butts.’
      • ‘After being served our desert we had to call a waiter to clear all the dead glasses away.’
      barren, lifeless, bare, empty, desolate, sterile
      View synonyms
    15. 1.15(of the ball in a game) out of play.
      See also dead ball
      • ‘But a decision about an actual goal being scored when the ball is dead ought to be checked if there is any doubt in the ref's mind or even if there's not.’
      • ‘The referee should not permit a player to resume until the ball is dead.’
      • ‘If an umpire is struck by a batted ball in that position, the ball is dead.’
      • ‘With the ball eventually rolling dead, Smith decided against the penalty try.’
      • ‘Keep in mind that on such plays the ball is not dead and the batter-runner may try for four bases at his own risk if he chooses.’
    16. 1.16(of a playing field, ball, or other surface) lacking springiness or bounce.
      • ‘This pitch was completely dead from the first ball.’
      • ‘England fast bowlers seemed to bowl too many short deliveries on a dead pitch today.’
      • ‘But after last night's rain I knew the ground would be on the dead side and if he didn't fall he'd have a chance.’
      • ‘I'm not criticising anyone but it's just a dead surface and there's no response from it.’
      • ‘He demonstrated that even on dead pitches a degree of aggression can bring dividends.’
  • 2[attributive] Complete; absolute.

    ‘we sat in dead silence’
    • ‘Everyone sat there in dead silence for a moment, quietly digesting what they'd just heard.’
    • ‘There was dead silence for the first 10 minutes, until Shelly's dad came and got her.’
    • ‘The class stayed in the kind of dead silence that most teachers would greet with joy.’
    • ‘That comment caused dead silence, because he hit the nail on the head.’
    • ‘The most amusing parts were when they'd call for audience participation, and there'd be dead silence.’
    • ‘Maybe the officials can answer, as there is dead silence from Government members.’
    • ‘A dead silence followed as each person took time to analyze his surroundings.’
    • ‘And if you can hold eight hundred people in dead silence and hear a pin drop you know something's going right.’
    • ‘You'll hear gasps, a dead silence, then the sound of sobbing.’
    • ‘There was about half a minute of total dead silence before she could manage any words.’
    • ‘There was dead silence for a minute and then something streaked past.’
    • ‘All sound stopped instantly and there was dead silence from inside the bar.’
    • ‘Since disaster struck the students have been making frantic phone calls only to be greeted by dead silence.’
    • ‘The room fell into dead silence as it was clear no one had the money to upstage his bid.’
    • ‘The fact that this research has not lead to dozens of follow up studies, but instead was followed by dead silence, raises many questions in my mind.’
    • ‘It's been almost a year now and there has been pretty much dead silence on the matter.’
    • ‘A wave of laughter flared up at that one, followed by a dead silence.’
    • ‘There was a dead silence on the court for a few moments before Flynn's roar woke the officials up.’
    • ‘She thought her little five-year-old heartbeat came to a dead stop in the silence.’
    • ‘There was a long moment of dead silence as Jessica processed that piece of depressing information.’
    complete, absolute, total, entire, outright, utter, downright, out-and-out, thorough, unqualified, unmitigated
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  • 1[often as submodifier] Absolutely; completely.

    ‘you're dead right’
    ‘he was dead against the idea’
    • ‘John's description of it is both unusually amusing and absolutely dead accurate.’
    • ‘She stopped dead in her tracks and saw the red convertible stop as well.’
    • ‘Without the car's rumblings, it was dead quiet with the exception of a few cricket chirps.’
    • ‘Businessman John Walker is dead certain his funeral will go to plan.’
    • ‘He stood alone at the line, dead certain he was going to hit three free throws.’
    • ‘He was about to cross the street when he stopped dead in his tracks.’
    • ‘I am dead certain we have the talent needed for winning in the Olympic games.’
    • ‘As the bus pelts past scattered dwellings on a dead straight road, I'm reminded of home.’
    • ‘I needed some redemption and was happy that the last day was dead flat and fast.’
    • ‘It's dead empty in the pool after work, so I can churn up and down at my own pace.’
    • ‘I got up early this morning in the hope to have a surf before work - only to find that it was dead flat here at Llandudno.’
    • ‘More importantly, he turned over the ball three times and he stopped the opponent dead on five occasions.’
    • ‘The place is dead empty save for a man who invites us to discover 5,000 years of authentic Mexican cuisine.’
    • ‘Before she could say anything, however, his eyes rolled up into his head and he fainted dead away at her feet.’
    • ‘It's got the longest, thinnest legs I've seen on a bird the size of say, a large gull, with a dead straight beak.’
    • ‘My monitor fills with images of two men saluting, grinning thumbs up or looking dead serious.’
    • ‘Realizing that his expression was dead serious she found out that he was definitely not lying.’
    • ‘The entire student body fell dead silent.’
    completely, absolutely, totally, utterly, deadly, perfectly, entirely, wholly, fully, quite, thoroughly, unreservedly
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1Exactly.
      ‘they arrived dead on time’
      • ‘That way I can take my time, not have to worry too much about getting in dead on time in the morning.’
      • ‘Providing that he knows the route, we will arrive at our destination dead on time.’
      • ‘Many DJ's finish dead on midnight, we on the other hand continue to play if the night is still swinging.’
      • ‘I promise I will fire at least twelve shots, and that at least nine will be dead on target.’
      • ‘We got there at dead on 6: 30, and there were plenty of people who arrived even later.’
      • ‘The timetable on the wall tells me that the train is dead on time.’
      • ‘Then I was gearing up to leave dead on 5.30 pm when the boss points out a problem.’
    2. 1.2Straight; directly.
      ‘red flares were seen dead ahead’
      • ‘She spotted the Lich Tower dead ahead, and figured it had to be just another mile's walk.’
      • ‘One lay dead ahead in a section all by itself, and she guessed that it probably belonged to Cal.’
      • ‘She was always scared of looking at people dead in the eye.’
      • ‘It will take away from the classic perspective of looking at city hall dead on.’
      • ‘There was a ninety-degree turn to the left, and a street sign dead ahead.’
      directly, exactly, precisely, immediately, right, straight, plumb, due, squarely
      View synonyms
    3. 1.3British informal Very.
      ‘omelets are dead easy to prepare’
      • ‘Finally the last model took her position and a few dead boring speeches were made.’
      • ‘His piece on the clamour for new nuclear power stations is dead good.’
      • ‘It sounds dead good and I fancy having a go.’
      • ‘So I have been feeling dead miserable, and just grateful that bubby has decided to stay put and not subject me to labour quite yet.’
      • ‘It's been a dead easy week, radio-wise - just like having your own PR company working for you.’
      • ‘Without his sense of color and composition, the film would be dead dull.’
      • ‘And the story of her and Bob at the VW Bus weekend was dead funny too, especially when she acted out the parts of some of the people she met!’
      • ‘I really don't know why you are asking me as my life is dead dull.’
      • ‘Gotta admit, it does look dead good, bit bright, but dead good.’
      • ‘He was twittering and laughing as if this was dead funny.’


  • Those who have died.

    • ‘Honoring the war dead, of course, is a natural act of mourning.’
    • ‘It's important relatives of the dead are allowed to think of their loved ones in tranquil surroundings.’
    • ‘Caravans traveled slowly down rickety roads from the mountains, carrying the dead and wounded.’
    • ‘It raises an intriguing question: Can the dead communicate with the living?’
    • ‘Many people do believe that the spirits of the dead talk to the living.’
    • ‘Iron Age burials are very rare but rivers, lakes, and wet places perhaps continued to be important as places for the disposal of the dead.’
    • ‘But it is still important to get the facts right even if the dead don't get the right of reply.’
    • ‘We have got to be accountable for both the living and the dead.’
    • ‘These acts would commemorate the dead, and importantly show one's connection to them.’
    • ‘Russian ethnographers have frequently commented that among the Russian peasantry there was generally no fear of death or the dead.’
    • ‘As far as I'm concerned the exact number of dead is not so important.’
    • ‘On Wednesday, he said, he drove toward home in a small caravan of vehicles that included a truck to carry the dead.’
    • ‘From the chaos, the dead and injured are carried off to hospitals already inundated in recent days.’
    • ‘As we sat in the departure lounge at the airport there was a national moment of silence to honor the dead.’
    • ‘Proper care for and remembrance of the dead are considered very important.’
    • ‘The purpose of the funeral is to honor the dead, not the important people with whom they were acquainted.’
    • ‘We honor our war dead today for the sacrifice they made for us and for our freedoms.’
    • ‘The issue of how and when the top leader of a nation should mourn its war dead is a domestic issue based on the nation's tradition and customs.’
    • ‘Most important was the uniform condemnation by the families of the dead.’
    • ‘British forces also headed for the area to seal it off while they recovered their dead and anything important from the helicopter.’
    deceased, expired, departed, gone, no more, passed on, passed away
    View synonyms


  • dead and buried

    • Over; finished.

      ‘the incident is dead and buried’
      • ‘How will this ancient struggle, which liberal theorists once thought dead and buried, end?’
      • ‘Are those plans still alive or they are dead and buried?’
      • ‘The matter, as far as she was concerned, was dead and buried.’
      • ‘Despite being a man down there was still belief in the players that this game was not dead and buried.’
      • ‘He has realised that the constitution, as it stands, should be deemed dead and buried.’
      • ‘With fourteen minutes to play in normal time they looked dead and buried as they trailed by 3-1.’
      • ‘Even so, the traditional ideals these clichés had replaced were dead and buried.’
      • ‘We now need the Fire Brigade and the Government to honour their commitment because this is an issue that will never be dead and buried.’
      • ‘St. Peter's were happy to come out of the match with a win as they looked dead and buried for the first twenty minutes of the second half.’
      • ‘Soon this nation will be dead and buried unless it changes its philosophy.’
  • (as) dead as a (or the) dodo

    • 1Dead (used for emphasis)

      1. 1.1No longer effective, valid, or interesting.
        ‘the campaign was as dead as a dodo’
        • ‘Dreams of a secular India, where the commanding heights of the economy are in the public sector, are as dead as a dodo.’
        • ‘In fact, the upstairs bar was as dead as a dodo, but the downstairs bar, facing the diners, was even more convenient.’
        • ‘It was a final flurry worth waiting for and made all the more remarkable after a dead as a dodo first half.’
        • ‘Also bear in mind that this region is as dead as a dodo at night.’
        • ‘Thank God the idea of regional assemblies is now as dead as a dodo.’
        • ‘Besides far-fetched ideas like taxing everyone for authors rights, or technically blocking filesharing, or a major government crackdown on filesharing, the story is basically dead as a dodo.’
        • ‘What does he say now that the social entrepreneur scheme is as dead as a dodo?’
        • ‘I feel full-blown £20,000-a-year constables are not going to be widely used on foot patrols because top brass officers think that type of policing is dead as the dodo.’
        • ‘Underlying this evolution of a new journalistic hybrid is the conviction that traditional photojournalism, as practiced since the days of Matthew Brady, is as dead as the dodo.’
        • ‘While the League's television bid might now be as dead as a dodo, there are some vital facts that any future television deal-makers will find interesting to pore over.’
  • (as) dead as a doornail

    • Quite dead.

      • ‘Dated, fin-de-siècle symbolism is deader than a doornail (which at least doesn't rot), without the ghost of a chance at survival.’
      • ‘‘As a doctrine, it's dead as a doornail,’ he insists.’
      • ‘He merely just flopped back on the floor, now dead as a doornail.’
      • ‘They'll be deader'n doornails for the next couple hours.’
      • ‘Everyone in front of me was dead - dead as a doornail.’
      • ‘She's just deader than the proverbial doornail.’
      • ‘I'll stand in front of him until I'm as dead as a doornail.’
      • ‘Their screams sounded like nails on a chalkboard, or a strangled cat, as they slowly fell into heaps on the floor, dead as doornails and far more ugly.’
      • ‘If we'd lost it this estate would have been dead as a doornail.’
      • ‘Don't ask me what has happened in the interim, but the whole issue seems to be as dead as the proverbial doornail just now.’
      dead, expired, departed, gone, no more, passed on, passed away
      View synonyms
  • dead from the neck up

    • informal Stupid.

      • ‘The supporting cast was either over the top or dead from the neck up.’
      • ‘Any person who maintains the same attitudes over a twenty-year period is probably dead from the neck up.’
      • ‘The girl must be dead from the neck up that she'll go along with it.’
      • ‘My dear fellow, I may be dead from the neck up, but rack my brains as I may I can't see why a chap should need thirty pages to describe how he turns over in bed before going to sleep.’
      • ‘Not all the students were dead from the neck up.’
      • ‘Right now, I'm somewhat overwhelmed, by how many Americans seem to be dead from the neck up, as we approach this election.’
      • ‘If you believe that he's the toughest player in the NFL, you are truly dead from the neck up.’
  • dead in the water

    • 1(of a ship) unable to move.

      • ‘We had hit a vessel that I thought had been dead in the water.’
      • ‘Two enemy ships exploded in a rolling ball of flame, and another was left dead in the water, it's main power grid severed by the withering hail of bolts.’
      • ‘Communications were established and the aircraft reported the vessel dead in the water with six people on board.’
      • ‘It worked, but we lost all communications systems, and we're dead in the water.’
      • ‘There was a hesitant moment then, ‘Skipper, right now we're dead in the water.’’
      • ‘It's the second time fire has left the 22-year-old Queen of Surrey dead in the water since it came back from a month-long refit at Deas Dock earlier this spring.’
      • ‘Two hundred feet below the surface the ship sat dead in the water, not moving.’
      • ‘An unforeseeable minor glitch in his water pump left him dead in the water for three days.’
      • ‘Although the crew managed to restart the engines in the middle of the night, when rescuing ships arrived she was still dead in the water, her engine room was flooding and she was rolling heavily.’
      • ‘We had stopped to pick him up, and while dead in the water we had six to eight speed boats fly by us on both sides at 50-60 mph.’
      1. 1.1Unable to function effectively.
        ‘the economy is dead in the water’
        • ‘The bad-debt fallout and other effects of this collapse have left the once-dynamic economy dead in the water.’
        • ‘Mr Price said: ‘This scheme is almost certainly dead in the water.’’
        • ‘And 30 or 40 years later, the project is dead in the water, as he admits.’
        • ‘If we don't put forward some options, we'll be dead in the water.’
        • ‘We know we have to keep on top of late payments, that cash is the lifeblood of our company and that if we didn't collect, we'd be dead in the water.’
        • ‘All the banks need a good presence in Taiwan or they will be dead in the water.’
        • ‘Software that automates the management of personal computers can make a tech-support staff considerably more efficient and, ideally, reduce the likelihood that a machine will end up dead in the water.’
        • ‘Britain's fishing industry would be dead in the water inside 12 months under ferocious new conservation rules demanded by scientists, fishermen warned yesterday.’
        • ‘With analysts and some EU countries already saying the treaty is virtually dead in the water, the British decision is seen by many as tantamount to signing its death certificate.’
        • ‘Social Security privatization is dead in the water.’
  • dead meat

    • informal In serious trouble.

      ‘if anyone finds out, you're dead meat’
      • ‘If you say ‘I speak 5 languages’ but are unable to actually do so, you will probably be dead meat.’
      • ‘We were basically dead meat, with the evidence red hot in our sweaty palms.’
      • ‘‘If they don't even bother having drills,’ she said, ‘that means that once someone attacks us with nuclear weapons, we are dead meat.’’
      • ‘Any Tory or Labour leader with a poll rating of 20 per cent would be dead meat.’
      • ‘She glared at him; ‘Didn't I tell you that if you tried anything, you were dead meat?’
      • ‘Look, all I'm trying to say is, you are dead meat.’
      • ‘Better not let her or her friends find out or you're dead meat.’
      • ‘I mean, the first time I walked out on a nightclub floor, I was terrified, absolutely terrified, but you can't ever let them know you're scared because, if you let them know you're scared, you're dead meat.’
      • ‘Mark clearly thought his days were numbered; as soon as the adults found out he figured he'd be dead meat.’
      • ‘You are in this mess with me and if you're not going stop arguing, the two of us - you and me - are going to be dead meat!’
  • the dead of night

    • The quietest, darkest part of the night.

      • ‘It seems that someone is secretly dropping money all over the city in the dead of night, for no apparent purpose.’
      • ‘He was eventually released 25 miles away in a quiet country lane in Northwich, Cheshire, in the dead of night.’
      • ‘It is understood the service could have been held at the dead of night, so as not to upset mourners attending other cremations.’
      • ‘However, you never know what strange ideas will suddenly grip me in the dead of night, when I'm alone with my computer.’
      • ‘Ever wondered why the cat is so particular about settling territorial disputes in the dead of night when everyone is asleep?’
      • ‘Access was gained in the dead of night by removing heavy steel bars from the drawing room windows at Warneford Place.’
      • ‘Already weak from days without food and water, he and three colleagues had sneaked past a cordon of armed guards in the dead of night.’
      • ‘Theoretically, you could get there in 13 hours but then you'd probably have to travel in the dead of night.’
      • ‘She and her brother received regular telephone calls in the dead of night from her father, helpless with pain.’
      • ‘He stole into the abbey in the dead of night, intent on stealing a personal memento of Scotland's greatest king.’
  • the dead of winter

    • The coldest part of winter.

      • ‘I nearly caught frostbite at an Oslo bus stop in the dead of winter.’
      • ‘I've been to Yosemite National Park at least half a dozen times since I was a kid, but I've never gone there in the dead of winter.’
      • ‘Even in the dead of winter, the scenic vistas of the snow-capped fjords enchanted me.’
      • ‘I used to stand outside in the dead of winter, waiting for the mailman to come down the block.’
      • ‘I took two trips to Russia in the dead of winter.’
      • ‘Not all hunting seasons are held in the dead of winter.’
      • ‘In the dead of winter, he'll cross between Alaska and Russia via the frozen Bering Strait, perhaps braving temperatures of 80 degrees below zero.’
      • ‘Finally, in what should be the dead of winter but isn't, the soil is workable enough for Rick and I to give it a thorough digging.’
      • ‘It was the dead of winter and there was snow on the ground and sheets of ice on the Rhone.’
      • ‘Since burials could not be performed in the dead of winter, gravestone orders were probably not placed during the winter, creating a seasonal decline in income that had to be filled by other work, such as smithing.’
  • dead on

    • Exactly right.

      ‘her judgment was dead on’
      • ‘I think that he's dead on as far as the differences between the two countries goes.’
      • ‘Hmm, I thought the article was dead on, and your reaction to it seems to support my opinion.’
      • ‘The central argument that education about the horrors of the 20th Century is essential to the world's future is dead on.’
      • ‘Can everyone please pay attention to the list-ridden post below, because apparently it's dead on.’
      • ‘Seriously though, this was so dead on that I decided to read the horoscopes of people I know.’
  • dead on arrival

    • 1Used to describe a person who is declared dead immediately upon arrival at a hospital.

      • ‘He was rushed to Lewisham Hospital but was dead on arrival.’
      • ‘He was dead on arrival at York District Hospital at 9.35 pm.’
      • ‘Unfortunately, he was pronounced dead on arrival and is believed to have drowned.’
      • ‘He was certified dead on arrival at Burnley General Hospital.’
      • ‘The inquest heard she was found hanging by a plastic shower curtain in her cell and was declared dead on arrival at Pinderfields Hospital, Wakefield.’
      • ‘The 40-year-old was rushed to North Manchester Hospital, but was dead on arrival from head injuries.’
      • ‘The man, in his early twenties and believed to be a student, suffered multiple injuries and was dead on arrival at hospital.’
      • ‘Despite the efforts of paramedics, he was dead on arrival at hospital.’
      • ‘The victim, who had been in and out of the Philippines and owned a bar and restaurant in Manila, was declared dead on arrival at a Manila hospital.’
      • ‘He was declared dead on arrival at the hospital.’
      • ‘He collapsed while working out in a fitness centre in Carlow on Thursday evening and was dead on arrival in hospital in Kilkenny.’
      1. 1.1(of an idea, etc.) declared ineffective without ever having been put into effect.
        ‘why are people pronouncing the plan dead on arrival in the legislature?’
        • ‘For the most part, both of these books are valuable interventions in an academic world where theories are always dead on arrival.’
        • ‘Democrats - and many Republicans, too - see that idea as dead on arrival.’
        • ‘If he is right, the plan will be dead on arrival in the Senate.’
        • ‘A tax cut on the scale he's proposed, one that showers nearly half its largess on the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans, will be dead on arrival.’
        • ‘Congress, however, considered the proposal dead on arrival and refused to hold powerful industries to stricter air pollution standards.’
        • ‘Three weeks after the collapse of the European Union's growth and stability pact, it looks like the proposed EU constitution is dead on arrival.’
        • ‘When the prototypes of the new gun debuted in 2003, 90 percent of gunwriters pronounced it dead on arrival.’
        • ‘After all, Kyoto was pronounced dead on arrival by the US Senate in the 1990s.’
        • ‘I've been in relationships that are dead on arrival.’
        • ‘This is an awful law, and were the attention of good people everywhere not focused upon the many awful things happening in DC, it would be dead on arrival.’
  • dead on one's feet

    • informal Extremely tired.

      • ‘I was tired but not yet completely dead on my feet.’
      • ‘He hadn't eaten in a while and was practically dead on his feet.’
      • ‘I know that at the end of term they are dead on their feet.’
      • ‘People were dead on their feet but we just battled on because we had to.’
      • ‘When the determined trainees finally crossed the 40th kilometre mark and knew that they had made it, they were almost dead on their feet.’
      • ‘I can't seem to get into bed unless I am exhausted and dead on my feet.’
      • ‘He was still standing, but I knew he was dead on his feet.’
      • ‘She was obviously dead on her feet she was so tired, and just staying awake for me.’
      • ‘We got home at half past one, dead on our feet, with aching legs, sore backs and barely coherent with tiredness, but, nevertheless, able to share our impressions of the highlights and lowlights.’
      • ‘We got back in the early hours, and I was absolutely dead on my feet.’
  • dead set against

    • informal Strongly opposed to.

      ‘they were dead set against seeing any more open spaces divided up’
      • ‘Tony's parents are dead set against his marrying Alice.’
      • ‘Officials say the finance minister is dead set against large-scale borrowing.’
      • ‘Anyway, before you can have a female Pope you must first provide for the ordination of women to the priesthood, and the present Pope is dead set against that.’
      • ‘If members of the public knew that every contribution they made to charity is taxed, they would not be pleased at all, but the three main parties seem reluctant to tell people, and they seem dead set against taking it away.’
      • ‘A life sentence without possibility of parole keeps murderers off the street just as effectively, but death penalty advocates are dead set against accepting this as a substitute.’
      • ‘The problem is that some powerful lobby groups seem dead set against new technologies just because they are new, and promoted by private industry.’
      • ‘But are conservatives, and nonliberals generally, really dead set against popular culture?’
      • ‘Village leaders are dead set against the scheme to build houses at Lodge Hill, off Main Street, but planning officials want their objections overruled.’
      • ‘But can she fight the conservatives in Congress who are dead set against spending money on the arts?’
      • ‘Key investors were dead set against giving away the patent rights.’
  • dead to rights

    • informal In the act of doing something wrong; red-handed.

      ‘he had me dead to rights, so I meekly suffered the rebuke’
      • ‘When he was brought to trial the prosecution, who had him dead to rights, encountered a lot of community support for what he'd done.’
      • ‘Even if you have someone dead to rights, suing and winning is incredibly difficult.’
      • ‘It's just what an honest reporter who wants to protect his sources does when he is caught dead to rights.’
      • ‘He has just been caught dead to rights having multiple affairs.’
      • ‘It's an element of any good scandal that the culprit be caught dead to rights.’
  • dead to the world

    • informal Fast asleep.

      • ‘My Grandma is usually in bed by eight thirty, dead to the world by eight forty five.’
      • ‘Ten minutes later, I was dead to the world yet again, buried deep beneath my warm comforter and cotton sheets.’
      • ‘I turned and saw that Andrew was also dead to the world.’
      • ‘For the hundredth time, she glances over to the bed, where Frank has been lying in a medicated sleep, dead to the world.’
      • ‘Usually the pills knocked her out cold, leaving her dead to the world for hours - but this time it was different.’
      • ‘He was dead to the world and would probably never know what he had done.’
      • ‘I know Logan falls asleep within 3 minutes because when I try to discuss things which bother me 4 minutes after turning off the light, he's dead to the world.’
      • ‘Now he's snoozing peacefully, dead to the world.’
      • ‘Those pills work fast; he'll be dead to the world in under ten minutes.’
      • ‘I turn my back for a moment, and when I return, Terry is lying on the floor of the van in the foetal position, motionless and silent, dead to the world.’
  • from the dead

    • 1From a state of death.

      ‘Christ rose from the dead’
      • ‘He expected and accepted a brutal, sadistic, death - and then he rose from the dead.’
      • ‘Spain's most infamous spy returned from the dead Monday, five years after his sister published a death notice.’
      • ‘It is believed that Jesus was crucified, buried and rose from the dead in this place.’
      • ‘Miracle girl Michelle Wheatley plans to thank the people who brought her back from the dead - by handing over the cash from a sponsored walk.’
      • ‘As a Christian, I believe that God is love and that in love He died and rose from the dead so that I might have eternal life.’
      • ‘The shrine is revered as the place where Jesus was crucified, buried and rose from the dead.’
      • ‘Then, on the third day he was resurrected from the dead, conquering death and opening the way into heaven.’
      • ‘With your bloodshot eyes and pale yellow skin, you look like you've just rose up from the dead.’
      • ‘Still, is it unethical or immoral to bring an extinct species back from the dead?’
      • ‘Such forgiveness, well meaning as it may be, is not going to bring people back from the dead or undo a lifetime of misery for others.’
      1. 1.1From a period of obscurity or inactivity.
        ‘the cartoon brought animation back from the dead’
        • ‘The task now facing the 2005 candidates is bringing the party back from the dead.’
        • ‘In the best of the conditions early on, when the wind was an irrelevancy, the South African came back from the dead and put a 66 on the board.’
        • ‘Now, after a long, unlikely crusade, he has brought the company back from the dead.’
        • ‘They are poised to bring the game back from the dead.’
        • ‘We will have a chance to see how a show can be brought back from the dead.’
        • ‘In one of the greatest fightbacks in sporting history, he came back from the dead and brought a new life to international chess.’
        • ‘Hadn't we seen other teams come back from the dead to make progress?’
        • ‘The staunch York City supporter today launched a double plan aimed at bringing the club back from the dead.’
        • ‘He believes he has brought his party back from the dead and ready for government.’
        • ‘Lately, light entertainment seems to have come back from the dead, bringing with it his TV career.’
  • make a dead set at

  • more dead than alive

    • (of a person) hurt and in a very poor state.

      ‘he was breathing, but more dead than alive’
      • ‘Then we flew to Palermo and drove for six hours on a windy coastal road to Taormina - we arrived more dead than alive.’
      • ‘You were carried out of here only yesterday, more dead than alive.’
      • ‘His doctor said he would never get up from that bed - that he was more dead than alive.’
      • ‘They dragged me from under the table more dead than alive.’
      • ‘He was hauled from the boat more dead than alive but, fortunately, recovered not long after.’
      • ‘According to the Tuscan Ambassador, Galileo returned from Rome " more dead than alive ".’
      • ‘Jean, the gas fumes in his head quite dissipated, staggered away, more dead than alive.’
      • ‘At this time, Ulysses is dumped on Ithaca's shore, more dead than alive.’
      • ‘The other is to deal with many street dogs - many I have seen look more dead than alive.’
      • ‘He struggles ashore withhis father and a few fellow survivors, more dead than alive.’
  • over my dead body

    • Used to emphasize that one opposes something and would do anything to prevent it from happening.

      ‘she moves into our home over my dead body’
      • ‘If you want me to have an examination done, it'll be over my dead body.’
      • ‘At some point during his long, intolerant career, he must have said, ‘They'll legalize homosexuality over my dead body.’’
      • ‘That bastard will have to go over my dead body to ask for my Jenny's paw.’
      • ‘I can guarantee you one thing, anybody I know who wants to spend money at Fineline motorcycles is going to have to do so over my dead body.’
      • ‘And unless they change that character's name and are willing to protect my father's reputation, I will not allow this movie to be made - over my dead body.’
      • ‘I tell the House that it is on record that the Prime Minister has said: ‘That road will go through my electorate over my dead body.’’
      • ‘‘They'll walk away with the windows over my dead body,’ said a senior source in the company.’
      • ‘‘That will be done over my dead body,’ said Sensenbrenner in an interview.’
      • ‘For his part, the Fulham manager, Chris Coleman, insisted his prized striker was going nowhere and said: ‘He'll be sold over my dead body.’’
      • ‘As one business leader said to me last week: ‘He will do this over my dead body.’’
  • stop dead

    • Stop (or cause to stop) suddenly or abruptly.

      ‘Rob stopped dead and turned to face me’
      ‘the sight stopped him dead in his tracks’
      stop dead, stop in one's tracks, stop, stand still, stand stock still, go rigid, become motionless, become paralysed
      View synonyms
  • wouldn't be seen (or caught) dead

    • informal Used to express strong dislike for a particular thing.

      ‘James Bond wouldn't be caught dead wearing a paper napkin bib’
      • ‘In fact, men and women who under normal circumstances wouldn't be caught dead in anything fancier than a ski parka arrived in black tie and evening gowns.’
      • ‘Most school yard bullies wouldn't be caught dead in a dance class, or so the old macho stereotype would have us believe.’
      • ‘On tropical islands they wear Hawaiian print shirts and neon shorts that ordinarily they wouldn't be caught dead in.’
      • ‘There's dirt on her face, and the work gloves she's wearing are ugly, utilitarian leather things that normally she wouldn't be caught dead in.’
      • ‘Trinny wouldn't be seen dead in what I'm wearing.’
      • ‘Those who wouldn't be seen dead at a concert might gain an acceptance and even appreciation for the style and art of the music, culture and dedicated individuals.’
      • ‘I wouldn't be seen dead in a baseball cap in the UK but when I am abroad I'm never without one!’
      • ‘I asked half a dozen young men who work in my office and each of them gasped,’ I wouldn't be caught dead in that’.’
      • ‘Everyone else might be much more dressed up than you are, or wearing clothes you wouldn't be caught dead in.’
      • ‘I wouldn't be seen dead with these guys on my bookshelf.’


Old English dēad, of Germanic origin: related to Dutch dood and German tot, also to die.