non·​start·​er | \ ˌnän-ˈstär-tər How to pronounce nonstarter (audio) \

Definition of nonstarter

1 : one that does not start
2 : someone or something that is not productive or effective his son has been, in politics a nonstarter— Anthony Lejeune

Examples of nonstarter in a Sentence

She's the leading scorer among the team's nonstarters.
Recent Examples on the Web The prospect of doing so while isolated from family members could be a nonstarter to the National Basketball Players Association. Jeff Mcdonald,, "Restarting NBA season would mean juggling the impossible," 2 May 2020 For all respect in the world for the Treasury Secretary, that was a complete nonstarter. Alana Abramson, Time, "Democrats Pushed For Robust Oversight of the $2.2 Trillion Coronavirus Aid Package. It Hasn't Happened Yet.," 18 Apr. 2020 Having personnel sleep at the facility is a nonstarter, but state prison directors are talking about boosting staff pay in the short-term as an incentive for worried workers to show up for shifts, Kempf said. Anna Giaritelli, Washington Examiner, "Fears of prison rioting escalate as coronavirus causes staff shortages," 17 Apr. 2020 The central bank can legally buy short-term local bonds, but that has long been seen as a nonstarter, in part because propping up some localities and not others could have serious political ramifications. Jeanna Smialek, New York Times, "Fed Faces Pressure to Do More as Virus Demands a Response," 19 Mar. 2020 As for the ordinance that supposedly forbids moving the war memorial, that's a nonstarter, City Attorney and Interim City Manager Dave Gillam said. Bill Laitner, Detroit Free Press, "Veterans unhappy with Royal Oak's plan to move downtown war memorial," 24 Mar. 2020 Doctors told Rabin-Havt to take Sanders’s glasses away for safekeeping, but with this particular man, that issue proved to be a nonstarter. Rachel Manteuffel, Washington Post, "Maybe his demise was less about ideology or policy — and more about the candidate himself," 23 Mar. 2020 Slashing cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency and taking $700 billion out of Medicaid over a decade are also nonstarters on Capitol Hill, but both the White House and Democrats are hopeful of progress this spring on prescription drug prices. CBS News, "Trump $4.8 trillion budget proposal includes 26% cut to EPA," 10 Feb. 2020 For Burnt Ranch, passing a local bond is a nonstarter, because the district’s tax base is so small. Ricardo Cano,, "For California’s rural, crumbling classrooms, a possible solution: new school bond rules," 27 Dec. 2019

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

See More

First Known Use of nonstarter

1865, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about nonstarter

Time Traveler for nonstarter

Time Traveler

The first known use of nonstarter was in 1865

See more words from the same year

Statistics for nonstarter

Last Updated

18 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Nonstarter.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 May. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for nonstarter


How to pronounce nonstarter (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of nonstarter

informal : someone or something that will not be effective or successful
US, sports : a player who is not chosen to play at the beginning of games : a player who is not one of the starters on a team

More from Merriam-Webster on nonstarter

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for nonstarter

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with nonstarter

Comments on nonstarter

What made you want to look up nonstarter? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

May 2020 Words of the Day Quiz

  • a blooming wisteria tree
  • Which is a synonym of exiguous?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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