\ 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c : no longer active : extinct a dead volcano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 collectively They 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

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Other Words from dead


deadness noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for dead

Synonyms: Adjective

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Adverb

Antonyms: Adjective

Antonyms: Noun

Antonyms: Adverb

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective During Iraq’s protests, which started in October 2019, at least 500 demonstrators were shot dead, some by Iraqi security forces but many by snipers and men in black plainclothes and masks. Kim Ghattas, The Atlantic, "What the Arab World’s Protesters Have Learned," 1 May 2021 The day the Chauvin verdict was announced, Ma’Khia Bryant, a Black teenage girl, was shot dead by police in Ohio. Abby Vesoulis, Time, "‘One Slip of the Tongue Could Ruin Things.’ Bipartisan Talks on Police Reform Advance—Delicately," 30 Apr. 2021 Two sheriff’s deputies were shot dead by a gunman suspected of killing his mother and stepfather at their home in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, authorities said Thursday. Washington Post, "Deputies in N.C. slain by gunman suspected of killing couple," 29 Apr. 2021 In the week between those mass shootings, more than 250 other Americans were shot dead. Tim Darnell, ajc, "READ: Full text of President Joe Biden’s first speech before Congress," 29 Apr. 2021 Taylor was a 26-year-old ER tech who was shot dead in her apartment as Louisville police were trying to serve a search warrant shortly before 1 a.m. March 13, 2020. Mandy Mclaren, The Courier-Journal, "Filly named after Breonna Taylor, owned by family's lawyer, wins Kentucky Derby week race," 29 Apr. 2021 In the week between those mass shootings, more than 250 other Americans were shot dead. USA TODAY, "Read the full transcript from President Joe Biden's address to a joint session of Congress," 29 Apr. 2021 In the week between those mass shootings, more than 250 other Americans were shot dead. CBS News, "Full text: Biden's speech before a joint session of Congress," 28 Apr. 2021 In the week between those mass shootings, more than 250 other Americans were shot dead. CNN, "Read President Joe Biden's first address to Congress," 28 Apr. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Friday morning, demonstrators laid rows of body bags on the sand of Rio de Janeiro’s Copacabana beach to represent the dead., "Brazil backs away from the virus brink as deaths top 400,000," 30 Apr. 2021 And what's scarce: nearly everything to treat the afflicted and even handle the dead. John Rash, Star Tribune, "In India, and beyond, a looming COVID catastrophe," 30 Apr. 2021 The steady and increasing pace in which the dead appear at Jadid Qabristan Ahle, Delhi’s largest Muslim cemetery, is weighing heavily on Mohammad Shamim. Los Angeles Times, "Funeral pyres burn. Gravediggers know no rest. India’s COVID-19 crisis is a ‘nightmare’," 28 Apr. 2021 The sick can’t get into hospitals, the dead can’t get into crematoria. Aatish Taseer, Time, "‘I Pray for My Nani.’ The Survivor’s Guilt of Watching India’s COVID-19 Catastrophe Unfold From Afar," 27 Apr. 2021 There aren’t enough ambulances to carry the sick to get care, nor are there enough vans to carry the dead to graveyards. Vidya Krishnan, The Atlantic, "India’s Moral Failure," 27 Apr. 2021 The president will not allow the dead to be forgotten. Washington Post, "Biden’s small moments tell big stories," 26 Apr. 2021 Naperville residents — the town had a population of about 5,000 in 1946 — rushed to the aid of survivors and collect the dead in a disaster that shattered the early afternoon peace. Suzanne Baker,, "Two trains, one tragedy: Remembering the deadly wreck that shook Naperville 75 years ago," 24 Apr. 2021 Nearly all ventilators are in use, and the dead are piling up at crematoriums and graveyards. Aniruddha Ghosal And Neha Mehrotra, USA TODAY, "India running out of oxygen, hospital beds amid unrelenting COVID-19 surge," 20 Apr. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb The Steelers finished dead last in rushing offense last season. Eddie Brown, San Diego Union-Tribune, "2021 NFL Draft: First-round primer," 29 Apr. 2021 After starting the race near the back, Chilton finished dead last, with a mechanical failure ending his Sunday 18 laps in. Nathan Brown, The Indianapolis Star, "Insider: Here's our report card on all 24 drivers after IndyCar's race at St. Pete," 26 Apr. 2021 The Detroit Lions are in full rebuilding mode after going 5-11 and finishing dead last in the NFC North for a third straight year. Rob Reischel, Forbes, "Detroit Lions NFL Draft Preview: Trading Back Could Make The Most Sense For A Rebuilding Team," 21 Apr. 2021 The victim, identified Saturday as 39-year-old Michael Bowden, was pronounced dead later at a hospital, authorities said. Henri Hollis, ajc, "WATCH: Police share video of person of interest in NW Atlanta shooting," 7 Apr. 2021 Both deputies were taken to Atrium Health Navicent, where Knight was pronounced dead just after 3:45 a.m., officials said. Elisha Fieldstadt, NBC News, "Inmate fatally stabs Georgia sheriff's deputy, officials say," 6 Apr. 2021 The child was raced to a local hospital but was pronounced dead later that evening. Greg Norman, Fox News, "New Jersey girl, 3, dies after falling into campground’s septic tank, police say," 5 Apr. 2021 Medical emergency crews rushed the man to Temple University Hospital, where he was pronounced dead shortly after. Kaelan Deese, Washington Examiner, "Philadelphia man fatally shot while working on gun violence campaign," 30 Mar. 2021 Wells was unresponsive when deputies arrived and was pronounced dead shortly afterward. Katie Rice,, "Footage: DeLand man accused of killing grandfather offered deputies severed ears, lunged for their weapons," 20 Mar. 2021

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.

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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

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Time Traveler for dead

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for dead

Last Updated

4 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Dead.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 11 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for dead



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
3 : straight entry 2 sense 2 dead ahead


\ 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

More from Merriam-Webster on dead

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for dead

Nglish: Translation of dead for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of dead for Arabic Speakers

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