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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
  • She dragged and strained at his arms, trying to move him, but he was a dead-weight.

    Poppy Cynthia Stockley
  • Koosje tried to lift her; but the dead-weight was beyond her, young and strong as she was.

  • The nouns are mostly feminine—the Hebrew neuter—in order to heighten the dead-weight impression of the idols.

    The Expositor's Bible George Adam Smith
  • Two, I was told, were dead-weight men, and one a sort of higgling merchant.

    Rural Rides William Cobbett
  • But for the most part even industry and endowment were powerless against the inertia of custom and the dead-weight of environment.

  • Is it to be found in the dead-weight of illiteracy which we carry?

    Black and White Timothy Thomas Fortune
  • The other was supporting the dead-weight of the body of the unconscious girl.

    The Man in the Twilight Ridgwell Cullum
  • She went over with all the helpless, dead-weight violence of a man who has caught his toe on a drooping clothes line in the dark.

    Blow The Man Down Holman Day
  • I don't know, Howard; what would you guess her dead-weight tonnage?

    Fighting Byng A. Stone
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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