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dead weight

or deadweight

the heavy, unrelieved weight of anything inert:
The dead weight of the bear's body was over 300 pounds.
a heavy or oppressive burden or responsibility.
the weight of a railroad car, truck, etc., as distinct from its load or contents.
Origin of dead weight
1650-60 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for dead weight
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • "Oh—yes—I remember," and though she closed her eyes again, she no longer lay a dead weight against Clare's arm.

    Brenda's Ward Helen Leah Reed
  • For, indeed, it seemed a dead weight that he held in his arms.

  • But just here, Erma's body falls a dead weight upon him and her head droops on his shoulder.

    Miss Dividends Archibald Clavering Gunter
  • Samson himself would have had to succumb to the dead weight.

    Hunted and Harried R.M. Ballantyne
  • All through her youth it has been a dead weight on her mental activity.

  • You will find that I shall be of no use to you—that I shall be a dead weight on your hands.

  • The shallowing run of the tide drove her to resign the dead weight that exceeded her strength to uphold.

    The Unknown Sea Clemence Housman
British Dictionary definitions for dead weight

dead weight

a heavy weight or load
an oppressive burden; encumbrance
the difference between the loaded and the unloaded weights of a ship
another name for dead load
(in shipping) freight chargeable by weight rather than by bulk
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Idioms and Phrases with dead weight

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® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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