dead·​wood ˈded-ˌwu̇d How to pronounce deadwood (audio)
: wood dead on the tree
: useless personnel or material
: solid timbers built in at the extreme bow and stern of a ship when too narrow to permit framing
: bowling pins that have been knocked down but remain on the alley

Example Sentences

She's determined to get the deadwood out of the company. a healthy tree with no deadwood
Recent Examples on the Web While Rambo kneeled amid the deadwood, pulling security, Herring stepped out from under the canopy, draping a poncho over his head to hide the glow of his controller’s monitor. Luke Mogelson, The New Yorker, 26 Dec. 2022 One of Neil’s most celebrated trees, a subalpine fir, has a sharp spire of deadwood rising high above the foliage mass, like a skyscraper poking through clouds. Robert Moor, The New Yorker, 14 Nov. 2022 Fire managers including Kobziar support using prescribed burns to clear out deadwood and underbrush that would otherwise become a wildfire’s fuel. WIRED, 10 Oct. 2022 At Thursday’s performance, there was as much deadwood as virtuosity. Charles Mcnultytheater Critic, Los Angeles Times, 18 July 2022 The camera wanders slowly over dirt and deadwood, scrub grass and scattered rock. Kat Rosenfield,, 26 Apr. 2022 Neil, 39, combines his teacher’s formal daring with Naka’s open, idealistic approach, sculpting Rocky Mountain junipers into pale white streamers or rugged bursts of deadwood reaching out from plumes of foliage. New York Times, 9 Nov. 2021 This cost-effective approach has helped Alaska largely avoid the problem, common in the lower 48 states, of forests that are overgrown or have too much deadwood. Randi Jandt, Scientific American, 1 Oct. 2021 In the short term, Inter may try once more to streamline their squad, to shed some of the deadwood that was up for sale last summer. Emmet Gates, Forbes, 6 Oct. 2021 See More

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

Word History

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of deadwood was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near deadwood

Cite this Entry

“Deadwood.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Feb. 2023.

Kids Definition


dead·​wood -ˌwu̇d How to pronounce deadwood (audio)
: wood that is dead on a tree
: useless material or unproductive persons

Geographical Definition


geographical name

Dead·​wood ˈded-ˌwu̇d How to pronounce Deadwood (audio)
city in the Black Hills of western South Dakota that was settled circa 1876 following the discovery of gold nearby population 1270

More from Merriam-Webster on deadwood

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