der·​e·​lict | \ ˈder-ə-ˌlikt How to pronounce derelict (audio) , ˈde-rə- \

Definition of derelict

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : abandoned especially by the owner or occupant derelict warehouses also : run-down a derelict neighborhood
2 : lacking a sense of duty : negligent derelict in his duty derelict landlords



Definition of derelict (Entry 2 of 2)

1a : something voluntarily abandoned especially : a ship abandoned on the high seas
b geology : a tract of land left dry by receding water
2 : a destitute homeless social misfit : vagrant, bum

Derelict Has Latin Roots

The Latin verb relinquere, meaning "to leave behind," left behind a few English derivatives, including derelict. Something derelict has been left behind, or at least appears that way. In another sense, someone who is derelict leaves behind or neglects their duties or obligations. Another descendant of relinquere is relinquish, meaning "to leave behind," "to give up," or "to release." Relic is another example of a word that ultimately comes from relinquere. Relics, in the original sense of the term, referred to things treasured for their association with a saint or martyr—that is, objects saints and martyrs had left behind. Relinquere also gives English its name for the containers or shrines which hold relics, reliquary.

Examples of derelict in a Sentence

Adjective The officer was charged with being derelict in his duty. the guards were judged derelict in their duty Noun It was a run-down neighborhood filled with drugs addicts and derelicts. a section of the city that seemed to be frequented mostly by derelicts
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective And the megaproject Galataport, an underground cruise ship terminal, which also launched in October, now anchors a part of the city that had been derelict and inaccessible since the late 19th century. Richard Morgan, WSJ, 4 Mar. 2022 The Classic Club Coupe started life as a 1998 911 Carrera that the executive director of the Porsche Club of America found in derelict condition in Columbia, Virginia. Caleb Miller, Car and Driver, 21 Mar. 2022 After the booster sent the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Deep Space Climate Observatory satellite to a gravitationally-stable Lagrange point, the rocket’s second stage became derelict. Corryn Wetzel, Smithsonian Magazine, 27 Jan. 2022 Both were meant to bring the financially derelict cities into solvency, at any cost. Derek Robertson, The New Republic, 12 Jan. 2022 Working for Barcelona’s city government, Mr. Bohigas was one of the masterminds of the city’s overhaul in preparation for the 1992 Olympic Games, particularly the transformation of its seafront, which had become a derelict industrial area. New York Times, 16 Dec. 2021 His exhibits include a derelict Japanese airplane, three jeeps, machine guns, mortar shells and more than 1,000 other items, many displayed outdoors. New York Times, 2 Dec. 2021 Early Monday morning, a field of debris hurtled at some 17,000 miles per hour through the part of space where a derelict Russian satellite, Cosmos 1408, once orbited. Ramin Skibba, Wired, 17 Nov. 2021 The residents, during a virtual kickoff meeting for the Arbutus sustainable communities designation application in Oct. 2020, lamented vacant and derelict buildings in the area. Cameron Goodnight,, 22 Oct. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun While not mentioning names, Adams did not refrain from taking a jab at his predecessors whose administrations, Adams said, ignored such derelict conditions. Mark Morales And Emma Tucker, CNN, 26 Mar. 2022 Museum visitors scan the codes on their phones and can listen to an audio description of the derelict receptacle. Christopher Arnott,, 31 Mar. 2022 As we’re introduced to the outreach work the two programs engage in — everything from group therapy to writing workshops to construction training remodeling derelict sites — three participants come into focus. Jessica Kiang, Variety, 29 Mar. 2022 Sealand, a micronation founded in a derelict oil rig off the coast of Suffolk, England, also peddles royal titles for cash. Anne Quito, Quartz, 27 Mar. 2022 When Saraceno took over the derelict brick building in 2012, the sale came with restrictions. New York Times, 7 Feb. 2022 The Outlaws follows seven low-level offenders rehabbing a derelict building for community service. Judy Berman, Time, 4 Apr. 2022 Recently, news coverage has focused on the hazards of tiny shrapnel, like the bits from a derelict satellite that Russia blew up in November, which subsequently nearly sideswiped the International Space Station. Ramin Skibba, Wired, 31 Jan. 2022 Inspired by visionary architect Carlo Mollino and prolific Italian singer Mina, there was a film, shot by Casper Sejersen, as well as IRL appointments which were staged in Paris’s derelict Hôtel de Guise on rue de l’Université. Tish Weinstock, Vogue, 2 Mar. 2022 See More

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

First Known Use of derelict


1649, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1670, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for derelict

Adjective and Noun

Latin derelictus, past participle of derelinquere to abandon, from de- + relinquere to leave — more at relinquish

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Time Traveler for derelict

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The first known use of derelict was in 1649

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Last Updated

3 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Derelict.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for derelict


der·​e·​lict | \ ˈder-ə-ˌlikt How to pronounce derelict (audio) \

Kids Definition of derelict

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : abandoned by the owner or occupant
2 : in poor condition : run-down a derelict old building
3 : failing to do what should be done They were derelict in their duties.



Kids Definition of derelict (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : something abandoned (as a boat)

More from Merriam-Webster on derelict

Nglish: Translation of derelict for Spanish Speakers


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