Definition of dead weight in US English:

dead weight

(also deadweight)


  • 1The weight of an inert person or thing.

    ‘the net was a dead weight on his shoulders’
    • ‘Why is the dead weight of someone (e.g., an unconscious person or dead body) heavier than live weight (e.g., a conscious person)?’
    • ‘His useless left arm is a deadweight that causes severe pain in his neck and back.’
    • ‘After 20 excruciating minutes of grinding my way uphill (with my legs feeling like deadweights from the overdose of lactic acid flooding my muscles), the ground finally began to even out.’
    • ‘And, as it happens, the rescuer shedding what he knew would be the dead weight of his clothing was my great-great-grandfather, John Kitchel.’
    • ‘Struggling frantically, she went under, kicked back up, fought to free herself from the deadweight on her back.’
    • ‘I felt as if a deadweight had just been dropped into my stomach.’
    • ‘On the roof, Roger struggles under the dead weight of the young man.’
    • ‘The koala was a dead weight holding me down and we stayed in those brown dark depths for what seemed like half an eternity.’
    1. 1.1 A heavy or oppressive burden.
      ‘the past was just so much dead weight, excess baggage’
      • ‘There needs to be careful strategic thinking of the ways in which positive social currents can overcome negative resistances and the dead weight of habit.’
      • ‘‘The amount of time that you have to put into filling out these forms is another deadweight on the economy,’ says Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist.’
      • ‘And they mustn't be impeded by the deadweight of regulation that this Labour Government has imposed.’
      • ‘A radical force for equality or a deadweight of political correctness?’
      • ‘We have to abandon the enormous deadweight of the materialism of the Western tradition, and turn to a more planetary way of thinking.’
      • ‘In this way, I argue, the notion of tradition might function, not as a dead weight, but as a genuinely inspirational element in the future development of the contemporary music scene.’
      • ‘Those ubiquitous institutions which act in all organisations like a deadweight on actually getting things done?’
      • ‘The danger is that those who come to Britain to work hard, get educated and better themselves and their families risk being dragged down by the deadweight of sections of the indigenous population.’
      • ‘We must instead place our selves and our present day existence where they rightfully belong, in the center of our universe, and shake off the dead weight of the past.’
      • ‘But it can be an enormous deadweight on U.S. power, as we saw earlier this year.’
      • ‘If he didn't get the trade out of Boston that he sought, he'd become a deadweight around the clubhouse until his contract expired at the end of this campaign.’
      • ‘His mother's vow that he would join the priesthood should he be cured appears to have created a deadweight of responsibility on a child's consciousness.’
      • ‘The solution is a complete purge of all the deadweight.’
      • ‘To Colley, the past is not a deadweight impeding progress.’
      • ‘When Sumit Sarkar published his path-breaking textbook on modern India in 1983, he helped lift the deadweight of the old clichéd guides.’
      burden, unwanted responsibility, encumbrance, load, onus
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2 The total weight of cargo, stores, etc., that a ship carries or can carry at a particular draft.
      • ‘A large cruise ship may have a deadweight of as little as 7000 tons, while a very large oil tanker may have a deadweight of more than 300000 tons.’
      • ‘The net registered tonnage of a ship roughly corresponds to 40 per cent of its deadweight.’
      • ‘The LMZ Artemis has a summer deadweight of 69,714 tonnes, 83,000 tonne displacement, is 228 metres long and has draft of 12.1 metres.’
      • ‘Some 500 tonnes of deck cargo can be carried, giving a deadweight of about 1,300 tonnes at the maximum draft of 5.1m or around 800 tonnes at the design draft of 4.2m.’
      • ‘The other vessel is the Forest Champion, a handy size vessel with a deadweight of 26,472 tonnes.’
      • ‘This buoyancy supports most of the deadweight of floating cargoes, so that typically only a minor portion of the deadweight is carried by the vessel.’
    3. 1.3
      another term for dead load
      • ‘In summary, the load used for settlement analyses must consist of the actual dead weight of the structure, and in many cases, will also include live loads.’
      • ‘Finally, there is a limit for the dead weight of the structure if the structure is going to be floated out.’
      • ‘The horizontal pressure on the wall from the backfill is countered by the deadweight of the concrete and of the backfill material pressing down upon its broad base.’
      • ‘This requirement need not be applied to a story where the dead weight above that story is less than 10 percent of the total dead weight of the structure.’
    4. 1.4Farming Animals sold by the estimated weight of salable meat that they will yield.
      • ‘Currently farmers receive around £1.45 per kilo deadweight for their lambs which averages around £25 - £30 per head; and is well below profitable production levels.’
      • ‘At this level, any pig producer selling deadweight should be diverting some of his production into the live market to take advantage of the situation.’
      • ‘There is a definite shortage of good lightweight heifers and I notice that the Scottish auctions averaged 108p/kilo liveweight last week, which is round about 180-185p deadweight.’
      • ‘Many farmers are reluctant to sell deadweight and sheep selling does lend itself more readily to the live auction.’
      • ‘We sell deadweight most of the time with the odd foray into live markets.’
    5. 1.5Economics usually as modifier Losses incurred because of the inefficient allocation of resources, especially through taxation or restriction.
      ‘a dead-weight burden’
      • ‘But we reject any such market, and we don't budge when an economist observes that prohibiting free transfer generates deadweight loss.’
      • ‘And taxation to support government insurance programmes has a high deadweight loss.’
      • ‘However, if that is not the case, prices in the U.S. will increase, imposing a classical deadweight loss (from trade reduction) on the U.S.’
      • ‘It represents a large deadweight cost and would not be a good use of public funds.’
      • ‘Firms face a deadweight cost if, having increased their training investments, their staff move on to other companies.’
      • ‘Where these products generate inconvenience or lower utility to the consumer, and yet save the producer nothing, a deadweight loss is generated.’
      • ‘For jobs where the curriculum is unrelated, the entire cost of the course of study, in time and money, is a complete deadweight loss imposed by this law.’
      • ‘All the studies done on taxation show that the higher the marginal tax rate, the higher the deadweight costs of the tax system.’
      • ‘However, it is likely that an increasing proportion of those who remain on the payroll are not engaged in productive work leading to increasing deadweight losses.’
      • ‘This is an economic rent to the council and a deadweight loss to society, as it's an incentive to use parking less efficiently.’
      • ‘Moreover, we have shown that this process maximizes the welfare to society by reducing any deadweight loss associated with an inefficient inter-regional spatial pattern of labour.’
      • ‘It's not clear to me that the income from the richest 5% could have been redirected towards the poorest 20% without some deadweight loss in income.’
      • ‘In fact, it is estimated that the economy incurs a $67 billion deadweight loss each year that is directly attributable to traffic delays.’
      • ‘Yet we haven't even begun to grapple with the huge economic dead weight of epidemic welfarism, which is costing us $36 million a day.’
      • ‘It's pure deadweight administrative loss to them.’
      • ‘We do what we can to efficiently weed out this deadweight cost, but it still consumes manpower and money that would otherwise be dedicated to serving paying customers.’
      • ‘It is putting a huge deadweight cost on the small businesses that are trying to produce the wealth, the jobs, and trying to keep this country going.’


dead weight

/ˈded ˈˌwāt/