: an idle worthless person
ne'er-do-well adjective

Examples of ne'er-do-well in a Sentence

the local ne'er-do-wells seem to hang out on the street corners at all hours of the day and night
Recent Examples on the Web Rickman's agent was flooded with offers, beseeching the actor to play more debonair ne'er-do-wells. Clark Collis,, 25 May 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'ne'er-do-well.' 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

1736, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of ne'er-do-well was in 1736

Dictionary Entries Near ne'er-do-well

Cite this Entry

“Ne'er-do-well.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition


: an idle worthless person
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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