Try Our Apps


Gobble up these 8 terms for eating


[ded-woo d] /ˈdɛdˌwʊd/
the dead branches on a tree; dead branches or trees.
useless or burdensome persons or things:
He cut the deadwood from his staff.
(in writing) unnecessary words, phrases, or exposition; expendable verbiage.
Nautical. a solid construction, serving only as reinforcement, located between the keel of a vessel and the stem or sternpost.
Bowling. pins remaining on the alley after having been knocked down by the ball.
  1. Rummy. cards in a hand that have not been included in sets and are usually counted as points against the holder.
  2. Poker. cards that have been discarded.
Origin of deadwood
1720-30; dead + wood1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for deadwood
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • You know the kind—one of these deadwood specimens that stand a show of gettin' the prunin' hook every time there's a shake-up.

    Torchy Sewell Ford
  • deadwood Gamely broke into a very excessive but false laugh.

    Pee-wee Harris Percy Keese Fitzhugh
  • That same morning Charlie Bylow had left for deadwood with his team and wagon.

    The Preacher of Cedar Mountain Ernest Thompson Seton
  • If ever there was poetry in a “deadwood Dick,” thought Phil, surely it was then.

  • Since every one she knew had gone to deadwood, there was no horse at hand that she could borrow.

    Napoleon's Young Neighbor Helen Leah Reed
British Dictionary definitions for deadwood


dead trees or branches
(informal) a useless person; encumbrance
(nautical) a filler piece between the keel and the stern of a wooden vessel
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
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for deadwood

1887 in figurative sense of "useless person or thing," originally American English, from dead (adj.) + wood (n.). Dead wood in a forest is useful as firewood; perhaps the reference here is to the dried up parts of plants grown for commercial production of flowers or fruit.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
Slang definitions & phrases for deadwood



  1. Unproductive persons; lazy and useless staff
  2. Anything useless, esp something useless that must be kept

[1887+; fr the fact that dead or rotten wood does not produce much heat when burned]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Word Value for deadwood

Scrabble Words With Friends

Nearby words for deadwood