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 For much of the past century, the Atlanta way of dealing with dangerous and derelict housing was to tear it down. Alan Judd, ajc, 30 Oct. 2017 The first duty of the commander in chief is the protection of US citizens, and Trump clearly was derelict in this duty. Peter Bergen, CNN, 28 May 2022 McCray questioned Ford about a policy in place during his time as deputy chief in Fulton County, Georgia, that barred firefighters from entering vacant or derelict buildings. Emily Opilo, Baltimore Sun, 11 May 2022 There is also now a plan to redevelop the parcels of land — some which are empty, some which have derelict homes and some which are still occupied — into 252 new or rehabilitated homes or apartments alongside pocket parks and short hillside trails. James Rainey, Los Angeles Times, 20 May 2022 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 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun SoLa also broadened into commercial real estate, buying a complex of derelict buildings on East 60th Street in the heart of a pre-WWII warehouse district. Doug Smithsenior Writer, Los Angeles Times, 14 June 2022 There, in shadowy streets and derelict buildings, men and women roam, often without apparent purpose, as if heavily medicated or perhaps blasted by that collective devastation called reality. New York Times, 2 June 2022 Amid hip coffee bars and boutique stores, Queen Anne style mansions and Victorian houses are still erect while derelict buildings are spotted throughout the city, indicating the faint remnants of the seedy history of Hudson. Juyoung Seo, Forbes, 26 May 2022 Some lawmakers and advocates have expressed frustration that the FDA was derelict in responding to reports of infant illness and slow to review the whistleblower’s claims of unsafe plant management. Laura Reiley, Washington Post, 25 May 2022 Stalked each night by a merciless presence on board the ship, the Demeter eventually arrives off the shores of England as a charred, derelict wreck, with no trace of the crew. Etan Vlessing, The Hollywood Reporter, 20 May 2022 The FSO Safer, a derelict oil tanker, is in grave danger of disintegrating and releasing its 1.14 million barrels of crude oil into the Red Sea. Manasee Wagh, Popular Mechanics, 12 May 2022 If anything, the Port should be working with real estate investors collaboratively to reactivate derelict properties, build denser housing on vacant land, and expand housing supply to keep up with demand. Roger Valdez, Forbes, 6 May 2022 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 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

20 Jun 2022

Cite this Entry

“Derelict.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Jun. 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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