Definition of derelict in English:



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

    ‘the cities were derelict and dying’
    • ‘Following a few weeks of begging on the streets and sleeping in derelict buildings, he falls in with a friendly group of squatters.’
    • ‘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 most notable of these barriers is a complicated system of land ownership, poor roads and a derelict telecommunications network.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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 ground floor of the derelict building was pretty much bare of anything other than broken junk and graffiti.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘‘We have clients buying derelict farmhouses and old houses which would otherwise be left to fall down,’ Anderson said.’
    • ‘The majority of them were bought either in completely derelict condition, or as a collection of rusty parts.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Between those dates the appeal site had been in an apparently derelict condition with 2 large black doors facing the street.’
    • ‘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’
    • ‘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 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.’
    • ‘However it remained unoccupied for a number of years and had fallen into a derelict state.’
    • ‘The derelict condition of the Market House has been criticised by the town council.’
    disused, abandoned, deserted, discarded, rejected, forsaken, cast off, relinquished, ownerless
    unsafe, dangerous, hazardous, perilous, precarious, insecure, treacherous
    dilapidated, ramshackle, run down, broken-down, worn out, tumbledown, in disrepair, in a state of disrepair, in ruins, ruined, falling to pieces, falling apart
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1North American (of a person) shamefully negligent in not having done what one should have done.
      ‘he was derelict in his duty to his country’
      • ‘The commission found that each had been derelict in his duty.’
      • ‘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.’
      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’
    • ‘The only regular visitors are the labourers and derelicts who drop in to spend some time before the radio kiosk or the television set.’
    • ‘Even if your slate's totally clean, people are apt to lose trust in you because you're dating such a derelict.’
    • ‘From a distance he looks like a wreck, a derelict.’
    • ‘Society, it transpires, hasn't turned him into a derelict, he's managed that all by himself.’
    • ‘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 supposed that in the dark, the fact that the block was deserted of all but derelicts might not be noticeable.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Head out across the loopway where derelicts collect and sit with them remembering the blues they heard and steal their drink.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Ultimately, Billy is said to have become a derelict, presumably because he was unable to work in the cattle industry again.’
    • ‘His passion for helping the underprivileged, the derelicts of society, and for world evangelization was built upon his passion for Christ.’
    • ‘The fighting became so intense it disturbed the derelicts outside, who began screaming and pounding on the door.’
    • ‘They are workers, or spouses, curmudgeons, derelicts, or hopeless romantics.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Under the steel and cement, the derelicts lie happy and drunk, their gaze set on the future.’
    • ‘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?’
    tramp, vagrant, vagabond, down and out, homeless person, drifter, person of no fixed abode, person of no fixed address, knight of the road
    beggar, mendicant
    outcast, pariah, ne'er do well, good-for-nothing, wastrel
    dosser, bag lady
    hobo, bum
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1A piece of property, especially a ship, abandoned by the owner and in poor condition.
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘In 1881, the schooner Ellen Austin, bound for London, discovered a derelict adrift in the Sargasso.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Up to a dozen geosynchronous satellites go out of service every year, and there are now several hundred derelicts in the disposal orbit.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Eerily empty travel zones are full of ice, gas, derelicts and asteroids of various types and colors.’
      • ‘You wouldn't believe the bureaucratic hoops you need successfully to jump when you're renovating a derelict.’
      • ‘With a secure airlock established between the two ships, the Scout transferred over to the derelict.’
      • ‘They both looked like abandoned derelicts compared with the other great warships being serviced in the yard.’
      • ‘Vale watched helplessly as a series of explosions reduced the once-proud cruiser to a blackened derelict.’
      • ‘Diaz maneuvered the tug underneath the cruiser and traversed the length until they were ahead of the derelict.’
      • ‘We ran into the docking bay and could not believe the decrepit derelict of a ship that he had waiting for us.’
      • ‘Meanwhile, the U.S. Coast Guard has the authority to move derelicts that pose a hazard to navigation, but not to dispose of them.’
      • ‘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.’


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