dead weight

noun
1.
the heavy, unrelieved weight of anything inert: The dead weight of the bear's body was over 300 pounds.
2.
a heavy or oppressive burden or responsibility.
3.
the weight of a railroad car, truck, etc., as distinct from its load or contents.
Also, deadweight.


Origin:
1650–60

Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Collins
World English Dictionary
dead weight
 
n
1.  a heavy weight or load
2.  an oppressive burden; encumbrance
3.  the difference between the loaded and the unloaded weights of a ship
4.  another name for dead load
5.  (in shipping) freight chargeable by weight rather than by bulk

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases

dead weight

A heavy or oppressive burden, as in That police record will be a dead weight on his career. This term alludes to the unrelieved weight of an inert mass. [Early 1700s]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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Example sentences
If the dead weight loss is less than the public benefit, then it should.
These changes added to the dead weight of the structure.
Gravity walls derive their capacity to resist lateral loads through dead weight of the wall.
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