Definition of ne'er-do-well in English:



  • A person who is lazy and irresponsible.

    • ‘This latter activity comes courtesy of a controversial religious camp for rascally teen ne'er-do-wells.’
    • ‘As ever with this kind of thing, there was no word from the man himself, as he's a bit busy saving the western world from ne'er-do-wells.’
    • ‘He has to wait until his Rage meter is built up before he can unsheathe his mighty weapon and hack vampires and other ne'er-do-wells to bits.’
    • ‘The quickest way to notify ne'er-do-wells that you're a stupid tourist is to unravel a sail-sized map right in the middle of 42nd and Broadway.’
    • ‘There's punch ups everywhere as the country's titled elite and public schoolboys take on the invading punks, anarchists and ne'er-do-wells in a battle for dominance.’
    • ‘I hope my labours (and, okay, those of the musicians) are enjoyed by the ne'er-do-wells.’
    • ‘Due to not having studied law, I move in the wrong circles and only meet artsy ne'er-do-wells rather than successful go-getting men.’
    • ‘As if these strangely-dressed ne'er-do-wells were not frightening enough, it was discovered that five of the teddy boys pictured were from the royal borough.’
    • ‘I just hoped he had left a memory behind that would help me get a tag on his meteoric career and give a hint about what lies in store for bad guys and ne'er-do-wells of North Yorkshire.’
    • ‘These ne'er-do-wells get it right from the word go, with songs pegged in the red, tempos that threaten to burst their seams at each turn and a vocal snarl reminiscent of Norway's Sweatmaster.’
    • ‘The leader of the quorum-calling ne'er-do-wells happened to be on the board the year that quorum was changed to 500 students.’
    • ‘The fox hunts could be brought into the cities: instead of hunting foxes, they could set the hounds onto local ne'er-do-wells.’
    • ‘In scenes more normally associated with ne'er-do-wells arriving at courtrooms, the couple were ushered unceremoniously out of vehicles by muscular security staff in through a back entrance of the registry office.’
    • ‘Hold on, there's more: the structure also must be portable, collapsible and secure enough to prevent ne'er-do-wells from waltzing off with the art.’
    • ‘Having chosen the estate in question as the perfect location for a comedy drama about a family of petty criminals and ne'er-do-wells, perhaps they should not have been surprised that some of the local kids turned out to be a bit lively.’
    • ‘I've known hordes of political plotters and ne'er-do-wells in my day and none of them would dream of putting their treason down on paper, far less sending it to a journalist.’
    • ‘Using a procedure they will not make public so as not to give the game away to local ne'er-do-wells, they then freed the red-faced guard from the rear section of the van.’
    • ‘And yet the offence these ne'er-do-wells give is as nothing compared with the harm caused by a vicious canker that is now gnawing at the heart of this sceptred isle, this England.’
    • ‘As folks enter the bars, they are now obliged to present an official piece of government-issued ID, which is then scanned into the system, cross-referenced with a list of known ne'er-do-wells and stored for infinity.’
    • ‘Where late-night casinos may still be considered by many as a hang-out for vice-ridden ne'er-do-wells, the online community can enjoy a game without the dodgy characters or stench of ashtrays.’
    useless, worthless, incompetent, inefficient, inept
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  • [attributive] Lazy and irresponsible.

    • ‘He roared and turned purple on hearing that his multimillionaire brother had died and left his entire estate to Biff, his ne'er-do-well godson.’
    • ‘There's the super-talented, ne'er-do-well point guard, who is signed to a long-term deal.’
    • ‘His trip becomes a living nightmare when he stops off en route to pick up his ne'er-do-well brother Fuller, who persuades him to play a joke on a lonely trucker.’
    • ‘He takes over a pub from his Aunt Paula after failing at innumerable ne'er-do-well schemes in London.’
    • ‘And if their characters are not fixed, why the sudden reversion to type (when Terry smashes up his situation by introducing Sammy's son to his ne'er-do-well father)?’
    • ‘Here, a woman is talking on the phone to her mother about her sponging, unfaithful boyfriend, justifying all his ne'er-do-well exploits out of love and possibly denial.’
    • ‘Another story today contradicts the theory that these scofflaws are a bunch of ne'er-do-well capitalists, or at least most of them.’
    • ‘In case anyone needs reminding what happened, a ne'er-do-well customer of the bank had run out of credit to prop up his ailing business.’
    • ‘With her curiously-named, camera-toting sidekick Rolf, Jemma takes you through a daily video diary for an eventful two weeks of quantum-transported best mates and ne'er-do-well lab technicians.’
    • ‘The overall effect is of being in someone's ne'er-do-well uncle's living room circa 1978.’
    • ‘I despair and I'm disgusted at the ne'er-do-well southern makeshift politicians.’
    • ‘In a nutshell, the ne'er-do-well Phantom wants to incite world war to make a fortune selling modern arms developed by his master scientists.’
    • ‘What do you expect of that ne'er-do-well relative who's always hitting you up for a loan because he's come up with a sure thing?’
    • ‘Despite this, the work is a must for all Williams fans for its presentation of his favourite characters - the Southern belle and the ne'er-do-well male - in their most archetypical form.’
    • ‘The sprawling flat features eight-foot-wide hallways, gargantuan skylights and impeccable plaster detail, all created for a long-gone shopkeeper downstairs and his ne'er-do-well brother.’
    • ‘These letters are familiar, occasionally intimate, but on the whole quotidian, recurring to her real estate woes and his ne'er-do-well relations.’
    • ‘However the meeting was arranged, why does the President of Taiwan want a meeting with the president's ne'er-do-well brother?’
    • ‘We're beggars and blighters and ne'er-do-well cads.’
    • ‘To make another thing clear, a gang is not a ne'er-do-well sort of thing; it is a gathering of vampires with a common belief.’
    • ‘Nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Film and Best Original Song, it's about a ragtag gang of ne'er-do-well schoolboys who gain self-respect under the wing of a kindly choirmaster.’
    good-for-nothing, ne'er-do-well, useless, despicable, contemptible, base, low, vile, abject, debased, degraded, ignominious, mean, corrupt, villainous, depraved, degenerate, wretched, miserable, sorry, shiftless, feckless, incompetent
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