dead wood

deadwood

[ded-wood]
noun
1.
the dead branches on a tree; dead branches or trees.
2.
useless or burdensome persons or things: He cut the deadwood from his staff.
3.
(in writing) unnecessary words, phrases, or exposition; expendable verbiage.
4.
Nautical. a solid construction, serving only as reinforcement, located between the keel of a vessel and the stem or sternpost.
5.
Bowling. pins remaining on the alley after having been knocked down by the ball.
6.
Cards.
a.
Rummy. cards in a hand that have not been included in sets and are usually counted as points against the holder.
b.
Poker. cards that have been discarded.

Origin:
1720–30; dead + wood1

Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Collins
World English Dictionary
deadwood (ˈdɛdˌwʊd)
 
n
1.  dead trees or branches
2.  informal a useless person; encumbrance
3.  nautical a filler piece between the keel and the stern of a wooden vessel

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

deadwood
1887 in fig. sense of "useless person or thing," orig. Amer.Eng.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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