\ ˈded How to pronounce dead (audio) \

Definition of dead

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : deprived of life : no longer alive a dead tree dead soldiers missing and presumed dead
2a(1) : having the appearance of death : deathly in a dead faint
(2) : lacking power to move, feel, or respond : numb my arm feels dead
b : very tired Our legs were completely dead after the hike.
c(1) : incapable of being stirred emotionally or intellectually : unresponsive a heart dead to pity felt dead inside
(2) : grown cold : extinguished dead coals
3a : inanimate, inert dead matter
b : barren, infertile dead soil
c : no longer producing or functioning : exhausted a dead battery
4a(1) : lacking power or effect a dead law
(2) : no longer having interest, relevance, or significance a dead issue
b : no longer in use : obsolete a dead language
c : no longer active : extinct a dead volcano
d : lacking in gaiety or animation a dead party
e(1) : lacking in commercial activity : quiet The city is dead after five o'clock.
(2) : commercially idle or unproductive dead capital
f : lacking elasticity (see elasticity sense 1a) a dead tennis ball
g : being out of action or out of use The phone went dead. specifically, electrical engineering : free from any connection to a source of voltage and free from electric charges a dead electrical circuit
h(1) sports and games : being out of play a dead ball
(2) croquet : temporarily forbidden to play or to make a certain play
5a : not running or circulating : stagnant dead water
b : not turning the dead center of a lathe
c mechanical engineering : not imparting motion or power although otherwise functioning a dead rear axle
d : lacking warmth, vigor, or taste The fire was dead. a dead wine
6a : absolutely uniform a dead level of mediocrity
b(1) : unerring a dead shot with a rifle
(2) : exact dead center of the target
(3) : certain to be doomed he's dead if he's late for curfew
(4) : irrevocable a dead loss
c : abrupt brought to a dead stop
d(1) : complete, absolute a dead silence
(2) : all-out caught it on the dead run
7 : devoid of former occupants dead villages
dead in the water
1 : incapable of being effective : stalled peace talks were dead in the water
2 : as good as dead : doomed most books are dead in the water long before their publication— Phillip Lopate
dead to rights
: with no chance of escape or excuse : red-handed had him dead to rights for the robbery
over one's dead body
: only by overcoming one's utter and determined resistance vows that they'll raise his taxes over his dead body


plural dead

Definition of dead (Entry 2 of 3)

1 : someone who is no longer alive : one that is dead (see dead entry 1 sense 1) usually used collectivelyThey were among the dead.
2 : the state of being dead raised him from the dead — Colossians 2:12 (Revised Standard Version)
3 : the time of greatest quiet the dead of night



Definition of dead (Entry 3 of 3)

1 : absolutely, utterly dead certain finished dead last The room became dead quiet.— Farley Mowat
2 : suddenly and completely stopped dead in his tracks
3 : directly dead ahead

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from dead


deadness noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for dead

Synonyms: Adjective

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Adverb

Antonyms: Adjective

Antonyms: Noun

Antonyms: Adverb

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Choose the Right Synonym for dead


dead, defunct, deceased, departed, late mean devoid of life. dead applies literally to what is deprived of vital force but is used figuratively of anything that has lost any attribute (such as energy, activity, radiance) suggesting life. a dead, listless performance defunct stresses cessation of active existence or operation. a defunct television series deceased, departed, and late apply to persons who have died recently. deceased is the preferred term in legal use. the estate of the deceased departed is used usually as a euphemism. our departed sister late is used especially with reference to a person in a specific relation or status. the company's late president

Examples of dead in a Sentence

Adjective Her husband is dead. He died last year. He was found dead in his apartment yesterday. He lay dead on the floor. The lost mountain climbers were believed dead. The poster said that the robbers were wanted dead or alive. Our legs were completely dead after hiking all day. I'm dead if I come in late for work again. If I ever get my hands on you, you're dead! Noun By the end of the war, there were over two million dead. He began his journey in the dead of winter. Adverb She's dead certain that she can finish the job. We were dead tired by the end of the day. He's not joking. In fact, he's dead serious. They were both dead drunk and passed out on the floor. She finished the race dead last.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Other pastors on Sunday more directly criticized Trump’s role in the Capitol assault, which left five people, including a police officer, dead. Alan Judd, ajc, "Back in pulpit after historic election, Warnock condemns Capitol violence," 10 Jan. 2021 Among the dead were Brian Sicknick, a U.S. Capitol Police officer, and Ashli Babbitt, an Air Force veteran whose social media postings trace a descent into deep-state conspiracies. Author: Greg Miller, Greg Jaffe, Razzan Nakhlawi, Anchorage Daily News, "A mob insurrection stoked by false claims of election fraud and promises of violent restoration," 10 Jan. 2021 The union spoke out against YouTube, a Google subsidiary, on Thursday for not doing enough to fight misinformation posted by President Trump after a riot inside the Capitol on Wednesday left five dead. Chase Difeliciantonio, SFChronicle.com, "Tech unions in Silicon Valley have been rare. Here’s why that’s changing," 10 Jan. 2021 Watt’s contract has no more dead money, meaning the Texans can trade or release him with no cap penalty. Ben Volin, BostonGlobe.com, "A deeper look at the top trends and year-end awards for the 2020 NFL season," 9 Jan. 2021 The vast majority of the people reported dead were in their 80s or 90s — and one person was 100 years old. oregonlive, "Coronavirus in Oregon: State reports 1,643 new cases, 28 new deaths," 9 Jan. 2021 The attack left three dead and more than 200 wounded. Carly Roman, Washington Examiner, "Boston Marathon bomber sues federal government over prison treatment," 8 Jan. 2021 An accurate tribute to the Trump presidency would include exhibits about the families separated at the border, or memorials to the Covid dead, their names spelled out like the ones on Maya Lin’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Kate Wagner, The New Republic, "A Shrine to the Most Tasteless Man in America," 6 Jan. 2021 In 2019, Cyclone Idai—the worst cyclone to ever hit the continent—caused destruction and flooding in Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Malawi, leaving more than 1,300 people dead and many more missing. Vanessa Nakate, Vogue, "“A Rise of 1.2 Degrees Celsius is Already Hell for Me”: Ugandan Climate Activist Vanessa Nakate Says We Need to Act Now," 6 Jan. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun And what better time than the dead of winter to invest in a pair of the best lug sole boots around? Erin Parker, Glamour, "15 Best Lug Sole Boots for Winter-Ready Edge," 6 Jan. 2021 Refrigerated trucks were on standby, ready to store the dead. Brian Melley, Anchorage Daily News, "Once a model, California now struggles to tame COVID-19," 2 Jan. 2021 Refrigerated trucks were on standby, ready to store the dead. Brian Melley, ajc, "Once a model, California now struggles to tame COVID-19," 1 Jan. 2021 Refrigerated trucks were on standby, ready to store the dead. Brian Melley, BostonGlobe.com, "Once a model, California now struggles to tame COVID-19," 1 Jan. 2021 Refrigerated trucks were on standby, ready to store the dead. Arkansas Online, "Once a model, California now struggles to tame covid-19," 1 Jan. 2021 Most of the dead have been young men or teenagers as young as 13. Washington Post, "Protests flare in Iraq’s Kurdish north, adding new front in national crisis," 12 Dec. 2020 The only witnesses for pictures of the dead are computers that wipe them out before they can ever get posted. Nicole Krauss, Harper's Magazine, "Drawing From Life," 24 Nov. 2020 It is also believed to be a time that the spirits of the dead are most likely to visit and possibly provide insight and guidance. Helen A. Berger, The Conversation, "Halloween isn’t about candy and costumes for modern-day pagans – witches mark Halloween with reflections on death as well as magic," 29 Oct. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb Massachusetts ranked at No. 1 on the list and New Mexico came in dead last. Shacamree Gowdy, Chron, "Hoping to raise a family in Texas? Here's what you should know," 12 Jan. 2021 Those numbers are all in the bottom half among Southern states, with Georgia’s figure coming dead last. Ramsey Archibald | Rarchibald@al.com, al, "Alabama and the South lagging behind in COVID vaccinations," 5 Jan. 2021 One of the most famous quotations cited ad nauseam by business leaders, parents and gym teachers happens to be dead wrong. Josh Linkner, Detroit Free Press, "What Yoda, and possibly your grandparents, got wrong about trying," 6 Dec. 2020 In season 3, Rip becomes a fiancée dead set on taking what’s his. Omar Sanchez, EW.com, "Let it rip: Why Cole Hauser's Rip Wheeler is the best character on Yellowstone," 2 Oct. 2020 The Ducks appear dead-set on adding to their current wide receiver haul, which already consists of five-star pass-catcher Troy Franklin and Under Armour All-Americans Isaiah Brevard and Kyron Ware-Hudson. oregonlive, "Analysis: Do Oregon Ducks have silent commitments? A look at the candidates," 28 Aug. 2020 The health insurance industry is dead set against a public option — a government plan that would compete with private insurers — and would fight it. Calvin Woodward, The Denver Post, "AP FACT CHECK: The Dems on pandemic, Social Security, more," 15 Mar. 2020 But there’s a very simple reason why the Jets pursued, and secured, their first victory of the season despite the looming reward for finishing dead last. Mike Jones, USA TODAY, "Opinion: The Jets played to win vs. the Rams, draft pick be damned. And they were right to do so.," 23 Dec. 2020 Two of those four recent opponents are among the worst rushing offenses in the nation in LSU (No. 113) and Mississippi State, dead last in FBS averaging just 23.75 yards a game. Michael Casagrande | Mcasagrande@al.com, al, "In age of explosive offenses, short-yardage trench battles still matter of pride," 11 Dec. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'dead.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of dead


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for dead

Adjective, Noun, and Adverb

Middle English deed, from Old English dēad; akin to Old Norse dauthr dead, deyja to die, Old High German tōt dead — more at die

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about dead

Time Traveler for dead

Time Traveler

The first known use of dead was before the 12th century

See more words from the same century

Statistics for dead

Last Updated

16 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Dead.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dead. Accessed 22 Jan. 2021.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for dead

How to pronounce dead (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of dead

 (Entry 1 of 3)

: no longer alive or living : no longer having life
: not able to feel or move
: very tired



English Language Learners Definition of dead (Entry 2 of 3)

: people who have died
: the state of being dead
: the time in the middle of the night or winter



English Language Learners Definition of dead (Entry 3 of 3)

: completely or totally
: in a sudden and complete way
: directly or exactly
\ ˈded How to pronounce dead (audio) \

Kids Definition of dead

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : no longer living … the spider rolled over onto its back, unmarked, but unmistakably dead.— J. K. Rowling, Goblet of Fire
2 : having the look of death a dead faint
4 : very tired That was hard work. I'm dead.
5 : lacking motion, activity, energy, or power to function a dead battery
6 : no longer in use dead languages
7 : no longer active a dead volcano
8 : lacking warmth or vigor Make sure the fire is dead.
9 : not lively This party is dead.
10 : accurate, precise a dead shot
11 : being sudden and complete The ride came to a dead stop.
12 : complete entry 1 sense 1, total dead silence
13 : facing certain punishment If we get caught, we're dead.


plural dead

Kids Definition of dead (Entry 2 of 3)

1 : a person who is no longer alive
Hint: This sense of dead is usually used for all people who are no longer alive.
the living and the dead
2 : the time of greatest quiet or least activity the dead of night



Kids Definition of dead (Entry 3 of 3)

1 : in a whole or complete manner dead tired
2 : suddenly and completely stopped dead
\ ˈded How to pronounce dead (audio) \

Medical Definition of dead

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : deprived of life : having died dead of scarlet fever
2 : lacking power to move, feel, or respond : numb


plural dead

Medical Definition of dead (Entry 2 of 2)

: one that is dead usually used collectively

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on dead

What made you want to look up dead? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

Slippery Words Quiz—Changing with the Times

  • ducreux self portrait yawning
  • What is an earlier meaning of nice?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!