dead end

1885–90 Unabridged


terminating in a dead end: a dead-end street.
Also, dead-ended. having no possibility for or hope of progress, advancement, etc.: a low-level, dead-end job.
leading a life in the slums: growing up as a tough dead-end kid.
verb (used without object)
to come to a dead end: The road dead-ends at the lake.

1885–90 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
dead end
1.  another name for cul-de-sac
2.  a situation in which further progress is impossible
3.  dead-end (as modifier): a dead-end street; a dead-end job
4.  chiefly (US), (Canadian) (intr) to come to a dead end

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

dead end
"closed end of a passage," 1886, from dead + end. Figurative use is attested from 1922. As an adj., from 1928; as a verb, from 1921.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases

dead end

  1. A passage that has no exit, as in This street's a dead end, so turn back. [Late 1800s]

  2. An impasse or blind alley, allowing no progress to be made. For example, This job is a dead end; I'll never be able to advance. [c. 1920]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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Example sentences
By all rights, this animal seems to be an evolutionary dead end.
Scientists began to view dinosaurs as an evolutionary dead end.
What's more, your dead end may be another scientist's missing link, the elusive
  chunk of data they needed.
Some geneticists believe that desperation is leading him to a dead end.
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