dead·​beat | \ ˈded-ˌbēt How to pronounce deadbeat (audio) \

Definition of deadbeat

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : loafer
2 : one who persistently fails to pay personal debts or expenses



Definition of deadbeat (Entry 2 of 2)

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

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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: Noun What did the Ohio Supreme Court have to say about a Lorain judge’s probation requirement that a deadbeat dad not get any more women pregnant? Laura Johnston, cleveland, "Is Bill Seitz the poster child for the Ohio Legislature’s continued protection of the corrupt HB6?This Week in the CLE," 21 Dec. 2020 Chalamet plays a deadbeat virus son who threatens to get the vaccine and bemoans his parents have neglected him during the second wave. Patrick Ryan, USA TODAY, "'SNL': Timothée Chalamet is the literal coronavirus, Harry Styles in endearing debut," 14 Dec. 2020 Kids shouldn’t go hungry because Dad is a deadbeat. Daniel Chaitin, Washington Examiner, "Eric Swalwell resorts to personal attacks on Republicans amid China spy story firestorm," 11 Dec. 2020 Between deadbeat tenants, falling asset values and complicated balance sheets, avoiding bankruptcy court will be hard, lawyers said. John Gittelsohn,, "Mall Shakeout Just Beginning as Complex Debt Drowns Owners," 3 Nov. 2020 In addition to facing an acute COVID-19 crisis, Argentina’s deadbeat economy is collapsing, and, as usual, the inflation noose is around Argentines’ necks. Andrew Stuttaford, National Review, "The Capital Letter: Week of September 21," 25 Sep. 2020 By eschewing the pimp, drug-dealer, ex-con, deadbeat-dad roles that contemporary Hollywood prescribes for black actors — by not playing victims — Boseman avoided the new stereotypes. Armond White, National Review, "The Usable Enigma of Chadwick Boseman," 2 Sep. 2020 By 1932, living in Los Angeles (which is relying on the entertainment industry to stave off the Great Depression), Mason is an alcoholic, a deadbeat dad, and an occasional dairy farmer trying to keep the bailiffs away from his family’s plot of land. Sophie Gilbert, The Atlantic, "The Conundrum of a New Perry Mason," 25 June 2020 What precedent would that set for other would-be deadbeats? New York Times, "The Money Behind Trump’s Money," 4 Feb. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective 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, "Binge These One-Season Wonders," 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, "The Functionally Dysfunctional Matriarchy of “Better Things”," 13 Apr. 2020 Flowers gave Brucie, a deadbeat dad, levels of humanity beyond his ne’er-do-well appearance. Matthew J. Palm,, "Orlando Theater Best of 2019: Featured Actor, Drama," 10 Dec. 2019 If the pressure to come up with liquidity forces Chandra to cede control of his TV empire, then the new owner will have the deadbeat infrastructure financier IL&FS to thank. Andy Mukherjee | Bloomberg, Washington Post, "A TV Drama Spawned in India’s Financial Shadows," 29 Jan. 2019 What’s the biggest misconception about Black fathers The biggest misconception about Black fathers is that most of us are inactive and uninterested in raising our children, or just straight up deadbeat dads. Danielle Pointdujour, Essence, "How This Black Man Is Changing The Narrative Of Fatherhood One Positive Image At A Time," 13 June 2019 Lawrence stars as a teenage girl eking out a hardscrabble existence in the Ozarks while searching for her missing deadbeat father. Emma Dibdin And Kayleigh Roberts, Marie Claire, "16 Amazon Prime Video Movies to Stream on Your Next Lazy Night In," 21 May 2019 According to a 2016 BuzzFeed article, Dee Dee told doctors and friends that Rod was a deadbeat drug addict who abandoned his daughter, which wasn't true. Alexis Jones, Marie Claire, "Who Is Rod Blanchard, Father to Gypsy Rose Blanchard of Hulu's 'The Act'?," 21 Mar. 2019 Waitress follows Jenna's bumpy journey as a small town waitress with big dreams of entering a pie-making contest in order to leave her deadbeat husband, Earl. Sarah Grace Hart, Teen Vogue, "Broadway's "Waitress" Casts Nicolette Robinson in the Lead Role of Jenna," 26 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'deadbeat.' 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 deadbeat


1863, in the meaning defined at sense 1


circa 1864, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for deadbeat

Time Traveler

The first known use of deadbeat was in 1863

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Statistics for deadbeat

Last Updated

8 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Deadbeat.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for deadbeat


How to pronounce deadbeat (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of deadbeat

: a lazy person : a person who does not work
chiefly US : a person who does not pay money that is owed

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Nglish: Translation of deadbeat for Spanish Speakers

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