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From Middle English deddeed, from Old English dēad, from Proto-West Germanic *daud, from Proto-Germanic *daudaz, from Pre-Germanic *dʰowHtós, original past participle to *dawjaną.

Compare West Frisian deaddeaDutch doodGerman totDanishNorwegian dødNorwegian Nynorsk daud.


  • enPR: dĕd, IPA(key)/dɛd/
  • (West Country) IPA(key)/diːd/


dead (comparative deadersuperlative deadest)

  1. (usually not comparable) No longer living. (Also used as a noun.)
    All of my grandparents are dead.
    Have respect for the dead.
    The villagers are mourning their dead.
    The dead are always with us, in our hearts.
  2. (usually not comparable) Devoid of life.
  3. (hyperbolic) Figuratively, not alive; lacking life.
  4. (of another person) So hated that they are absolutely ignored.
    He is dead to me.
  5. Doomed; marked for death (literally or as a hyperbole).
    “You come back here this instant! Oh, you’re dead, mister!”
  6. Without emotion.
    She stood with dead face and limp arms, unresponsive to my plea.
  7. Stationary; static.
    the dead load on the floor
    dead lift
  8. Without interest to one of the senses; dull; flat.
    dead air
    dead glass of soda.
  9. Unproductive.
    dead time
    dead fields
  10. (not comparable, of a machine, device, or electrical circuit) Completely inactive; currently without power; without a signal.
    OK, the circuit’s dead. Go ahead and cut the wire.
    Now that the motor’s dead you can reach in and extract the spark plugs.
  11. (of a battery) Unable to emit power, being discharged (flat) or faulty.
  12. (not comparable) Broken or inoperable.
    That monitor is dead; don’t bother hooking it up.
  13. (not comparable) No longer used or required.
    There are several dead laws still on the books regulating where horses may be hitched.
    Is this beer glass dead?
  14. (engineering) Not imparting motion or power by design.
    the dead spindle of a lathe
    A dead axle, also called a lazy axle, is not part of the drivetrain, but is instead free-rotating.
  15. (not comparable, sports) Not in play.
    Once the ball crosses the foul line, it’s dead.
  16. (not comparable, golf, of a golf ball) Lying so near the hole that the player is certain to hole it in the next stroke.
  17. (not comparable, baseball, slang, 1800s) Tagged out.
  18. (not comparable) Full and complete.
    dead stop
    dead sleep
    dead giveaway
    dead silence
  19. (not comparable) Exact.
    dead center
    dead aim
    dead eye
    dead level
  20. Experiencing pins and needles (paresthesia).
    After sitting on my hands for a while, my arms became dead.
  21. Constructed so as not to transmit sound; soundless.
    dead floor
  22. (obsolete) Bringing death; deadly.
  23. (law) Cut off from the rights of a citizen; deprived of the power of enjoying the rights of property.
    A person who is banished or who becomes a monk is civilly dead.
  24. (rare, especially religion, often with “to”) Indifferent to, no longer subject to or ruled by (sin, guilt, pleasure, etc).

Usage notes

  • In Middle and Early Modern English, the phrase is dead was more common where the present perfect form has died is common today. Example:
1611, King James Bible
I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain. (Gal. 2:21)


dead (not comparable)

  1. (degree,informal,colloquial) Exactly.
    dead rightdead leveldead flatdead straightdead left
    He hit the target dead in the centre.
  2. (degree,informal,colloquial) Very, absolutely, extremely.
    dead wrongdead setdead seriousdead drunkdead brokedead earnestdead certaindead slowdead suredead simpledead honestdead accuratedead easydead scareddead soliddead blackdead whitedead empty
  3. Suddenly and completely.
    He stopped dead.
  4. (informal) As if dead.
    dead tireddead quietdead asleepdead paledead colddead still


dead (uncountable)

  1. (often with “the”) Time when coldness, darkness, or stillness is most intense.
    The dead of night. The dead of winter.
  2. (collective, with “the”) Those persons who are dead.
    raise the dead
    wake the dead

Also can mean:


dead (plural deads)

  1. (Britain) (usually in the plural) Sterile mining waste, often present as many large rocks stacked inside the workings.
  2. (bodybuilding, colloquial) Clipping of deadlift.


dead (third-person singular simple present deadspresent participle deadingsimple past and past participle deaded)

  1. (transitive) To prevent by disabling; stop.
  2. (transitive) To make dead; to deaden; to deprive of life, force, or vigor.
  3. (Britain, transitive, slang) To kill.
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