Definition of deadbeat in US English:



  • 1An idle, feckless, or disreputable person.

    • ‘The three-quarters of Montrealers without university degrees can be excused for feeling like deadbeats.’
    • ‘Economies also define what counts as contribution's opposite: who and what are burdens, parasites or deadbeats.’
    • ‘You marry the headmaster's son just to climb up the social ladder, and he turns out to be no better than a worthless deadbeat.’
    • ‘Maggie and Rose Feller are best friends despite the fact that Maggie is a deadbeat with no real job or home and Rose is a high-powered successful attorney.’
    • ‘So… not the washed-up deadbeat of my worst imaginings, then.’
    • ‘They feel it their duty to tell you all their PB's and how if they weren't injured they'd be much further up the field… not running alongside deadbeats like me boring me to death.’
    • ‘Both share Lord Black's opinion that hacks are a shiftless lot of ignorant and opinionated deadbeats and the fewer the better.’
    • ‘Jack said the comprehensive schools are turning out a load of deadbeats.’
    • ‘It was all smoking and wood and old people, some of whom were great writers and painters, some of whom thought they were; some were just deadbeats.’
    • ‘You are obviously a cut above the usual run-of-the-mill deadbeats I have to put up with.’
    • ‘We need a much more effective way of reallocating responsibility for that income away from deadbeats to people who are actually taking the responsibility.’
    • ‘Thus, Dunie was gunned down by deadbeats at his Nittolo's motel in 1984.’
    • ‘Are the deadbeats just getting what they deserve?’
    • ‘It was pretty much the usual crowd of unwashed jobless deadbeats, greenie lunatics, terrorist-sympathising intellectuals, and arts students.’
    • ‘‘The UFOs never landed,’ Asencio says despondently, as though those deep-space deadbeats were ever supposed to be reliable.’
    • ‘Long dead, true enough, but never to be mistaken for his nephew who continues to exemplify, for some, anyway, the difference between a dead hero and a deadbeat.’
    • ‘Is this some new kind of fashion statement where you look like a deadbeat who just rolled out of bed?’
    • ‘But eventually the show about a loving, professional, upbeat clan was eclipsed by domestic comedies about dysfunctional deadbeats, such as Roseanne, Married with Children and The Simpsons.’
    • ‘It's not like I'm some deadbeat, go-nowhere, loser; I want to make something of myself, I want a life. I want to be able to drive.’
    • ‘It has always been irksome to publishers that they actually have to pay money to those weirdo deadbeats who wander in with manuscripts under their arms.’
    layabout, loafer, lounger, idler, waster, wastrel, good-for-nothing, cadger, parasite, useless article
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    1. 1.1North American A person who tries to evade paying their debts.
      • ‘They decided that since all the users were part of the ITP community, they would simply make it easy to track the deadbeats, with the threat of public broadcast of their names.’
      • ‘I spend my days going through files of shoplifters, drunk drivers, wife beaters and credit card deadbeats.’
      • ‘Asset management companies set up by governments in Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia and Thailand have mopped up the worst bad loans, unburdening banks by pulling the plug on deadbeat borrowers.’
      • ‘In fact, he was once a deadbeat who declared bankruptcy when he couldn't handle his credit card bills, loan repayments, or Sears and J.C. Penney tabs.’
      • ‘Consider the case of Iqaluit's reigning tax deadbeat champion, who owes nearly $162,000.’
      • ‘Congressman Chris Van Hollen calls companies who don't pay their share freeloaders and deadbeats.’
      • ‘The fix might be as simple as installing a controller to cut costs, increase prices, and hound deadbeat customers.’
      • ‘As time dragged on, some Thai borrowers simply became deadbeats - they didn't even pay when they were able.’
      • ‘You want the hard-working, taxpaying citizens to bankrupt themselves to support a bunch of deadbeats.’
      • ‘Koizumi has argued that it will take three years of tough economic times to fix the banks, put deadbeat corporate borrowers out of business, and set the stage for a new period of growth.’
      • ‘And of course, there are those UN dues, which make us the world's largest deadbeat.’
      • ‘If you are permanently classified as a "deadbeat" your borrowing power will suffer.’
      • ‘Now, I ain't no deadbeat, but I've been a little low on cash lately, and when it came time to pay the bills this month, I had to do some tough prioritizing.’
      • ‘If there's one thing the credit card associations want it's tough bankruptcy legislation which holds deadbeats responsible for consumer debt.’
      • ‘Putting that aside for a moment, let's look at why the stated reason for this bill - discouraging deadbeats from skimping on consumer debt - makes no sense.’


  • (of a clock escapement or other mechanism) without recoil.

    • ‘Graham's dead-beat escapement was the design used on most high precision regulators because of its smooth recoil-free operation.’
    • ‘Imagine the escapement-wheel of a common dead-beat clock to be mounted on a collar fitting easily upon a shaft, instead of being rigidly attached to it.’
    • ‘The principle is the same as in the dead-beat clock escapement, with the advantage that there is no friction on the dead faces of the pallets beyond what is necessary for locking.’