1 of 2


dead·​beat ˈded-ˌbēt How to pronounce deadbeat (audio)
: loafer
: one who persistently fails to pay personal debts or expenses


2 of 2


: having a pointer that gives a reading with little or no oscillation

Examples of deadbeat in a Sentence

Noun His friends are just a bunch of deadbeats. He was accused of being a deadbeat.
Recent Examples on the Web
Despite being a genius, he was kicked out of college after doing a favor for his deadbeat friend. Time, 11 Aug. 2023 That hasn’t yet happened to the world’s most notorious deadbeat. Mary Anastasia O’Grady, WSJ, 6 Aug. 2023 The one-of-a-kind table clock offers the display of three time zones on three trapezoidal dials and a deadbeat seconds mechanism marking home time. Cait Bazemore, Robb Report, 20 July 2023 Proponents said the law will rein in sky-high drug prices and corporate tax deadbeats. Jon Chesto,, 11 June 2023 And so the conversations that are ongoing right now really very much focused on the budget, which is the future of the fiscal commitments that the U.S. can make, but in terms of the responsibility to pay our bills, America isn't a deadbeat nation. CBS News, 14 May 2023 Periodic bouts of political dysfunction — putting the United States in danger of becoming a global deadbeat, despite its many economic advantages — aren’t helping the U.S. economy. Jeff Sommer, New York Times, 26 May 2023 The comic actor and the border terrier teamed up to portray Reggie, a dog who is abandoned by his deadbeat owner (Will Forte). Brent Lang, Variety, 26 Apr. 2023 To put in the capital — in colloquial terms, America is not a deadbeat nation. Jim Tankersley, New York Times, 2 May 2023
Calamy recently received a César nomination for this splendid portrayal of Julie Roy, a stressed, divorced white woman raising two toddlers despite a distant, deadbeat ex-husband who’s behind on his child-support payments. Armond White, National Review, 8 Feb. 2023 One week, the spotlight is on Woon-A-Tai as Bear, whose search for a positive male role model leads him to comic interactions with an amiably uninspiring spirit guide or to sadly pin his hopes on his hilariously deadbeat father. Daniel Fienberg, The Hollywood Reporter, 25 June 2022 And coming off a deadbeat response to the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020, Manfred should not be looking for any more rakes to step on. Anthony Witrado, Forbes, 27 Oct. 2021 Funding for everything, then there’ll be no more deadbeat dads. Alixel Cabrera, The Salt Lake Tribune, 7 Oct. 2021 Adding to the complexity was his eagerness to avoid the archetype of a deadbeat Black father. Los Angeles Times, 26 Apr. 2021 The pace and tone varies over the show’s short run, but the seemingly deadbeat characters are always charming and three-dimensional. Margaret Lyons, New York Times, 27 Mar. 2020 Now, however, after a trip with Duke to their deadbeat dad’s, Frankie’s back, hugging Sam like a little kid. Alexandra Schwartz, The New Yorker, 13 Apr. 2020 Flowers gave Brucie, a deadbeat dad, levels of humanity beyond his ne’er-do-well appearance. Matthew J. Palm,, 10 Dec. 2019 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'deadbeat.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use


1863, in the meaning defined at sense 1


circa 1864, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of deadbeat was in 1863

Dictionary Entries Near deadbeat

Cite this Entry

“Deadbeat.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


: one who fails to pay his or her debts

More from Merriam-Webster on deadbeat

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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