\ˈded \

Definition of dead 

(Entry 1 of 3)

1 : deprived of life : no longer alive a dead tree dead soldiers missing and presumed dead

2a(1) : having the appearance of death : deathly in a dead faint

(2) : lacking power to move, feel, or respond : numb my arm feels dead

b : very tired Our legs were completely dead after the hike.

c(1) : incapable of being stirred emotionally or intellectually : unresponsive a heart dead to pity felt dead inside

(2) : grown cold : extinguished dead coals

3a : inanimate, inert dead matter

b : barren, infertile dead soil

c : no longer producing or functioning : exhausted a dead battery

4a(1) : lacking power or effect a dead law

(2) : no longer having interest, relevance, or significance a dead issue

b : no longer in use : obsolete a dead language

c : no longer active : extinct a dead volcano

d : lacking in gaiety or animation a dead party

e(1) : lacking in commercial activity : quiet The city is dead after five o'clock.

(2) : commercially idle or unproductive dead capital

f : lacking elasticity (see elasticity sense 1a) a dead tennis ball

g : being out of action or out of use The phone went dead. specifically, electrical engineering : free from any connection to a source of voltage and free from electric charges a dead electrical circuit

h(1) sports, games : being out of play a dead ball

(2) croquet : temporarily forbidden to play or to make a certain play

5a : not running or circulating : stagnant dead water

b : not turning the dead center of a lathe

c mechanical engineering : not imparting motion or power although otherwise functioning a dead rear axle

d : lacking warmth, vigor, or taste The fire was dead. a dead wine

6a : absolutely uniform a dead level of mediocrity

b(1) : unerring a dead shot with a rifle

(2) : exact dead center of the target

(3) : certain to be doomed he's dead if he's late for curfew

(4) : irrevocable a dead loss

c : abrupt brought to a dead stop

d(1) : complete, absolute a dead silence

(2) : all-out caught it on the dead run

7 : devoid of former occupants dead villages

dead in the water

1 : incapable of being effective : stalled peace talks were dead in the water

2 : as good as dead : doomed most books are dead in the water long before their publication— Phillip Lopate

dead to rights

: with no chance of escape or excuse : red-handed had him dead to rights for the robbery

over one's dead body

: only by overcoming one's utter and determined resistance vows that they'll raise his taxes over his dead body


plural dead

Definition of dead (Entry 2 of 3)

1 : someone who is no longer alive : one that is dead (see dead entry 1 sense 1) usually used collectively They were among the dead.

2 : the state of being dead raised him from the dead — Colossians 2:12 (Revised Standard Version)

3 : the time of greatest quiet the dead of night



Definition of dead (Entry 3 of 3)

1 : absolutely, utterly dead certain finished dead last The room became dead quiet.— Farley Mowat

2 : suddenly and completely stopped dead in his tracks

3 : directly dead ahead

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Other Words from dead


deadness noun

Choose the Right Synonym for dead


dead, defunct, deceased, departed, late mean devoid of life. dead applies literally to what is deprived of vital force but is used figuratively of anything that has lost any attribute (such as energy, activity, radiance) suggesting life. a dead, listless performance defunct stresses cessation of active existence or operation. a defunct television series deceased, departed, and late apply to persons who have died recently. deceased is the preferred term in legal use. the estate of the deceased departed is used usually as a euphemism. our departed sister late is used especially with reference to a person in a specific relation or status. the company's late president

Examples of dead in a Sentence


Her husband is dead. He died last year. He was found dead in his apartment yesterday. He lay dead on the floor. The lost mountain climbers were believed dead. The poster said that the robbers were wanted dead or alive. Our legs were completely dead after hiking all day. I'm dead if I come in late for work again. If I ever get my hands on you, you're dead!


By the end of the war, there were over two million dead. He began his journey in the dead of winter.


She's dead certain that she can finish the job. We were dead tired by the end of the day. He's not joking. In fact, he's dead serious. They were both dead drunk and passed out on the floor. She finished the race dead last.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

For a look at the rest of the giant list, head to Nintendo's sales-landing page, which also includes discounts on eShop downloads for the Nintendo 3DS (which, Nintendo insists, isn't dead yet!). Sam Machkovech, Ars Technica, "Nintendo’s biggest Switch-download sale yet includes legitimately good offers," 21 Nov. 2018 Together, the fires have flattened communities, destroyed nearly 12,000 homes, and left more than 80 people dead and 1,000 unaccounted for. Megan Spurrell, Condé Nast Traveler, "California Fires: What to Know If You're Visiting California This Week," 21 Nov. 2018 Sixty-three people are dead and more than 600 are missing. Calin Van Paris, Vogue, "For Those Grappling With California Wildfires, Dangerous Air Quality Is a New Risk," 16 Nov. 2018 The October 27 shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh left 11 dead and 6 wounded. Temi Adebowale, Town & Country, "How To Help Victims of the Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting," 29 Oct. 2018 That is, could a person — like a photon or an electron or Schrödinger’s hapless cat, dead and alive at the same time — directly engage with the quantum world? Tim Folger, Discover Magazine, "How Quantum Mechanics Lets Us See, Smell and Touch," 24 Oct. 2018 Get Started If the wiring in the box is dead and nothing appears out of the ordinary, loosen each terminal screw and remove the hooked wire from beneath the screwhead. Roy Berendson, Popular Mechanics, "How to Wire a Light Switch," 17 Oct. 2018 At least seven people have been confirmed dead and more than 30 people were unaccounted for after a magnitude 6.7 earthquake struck Japan's northernmost main island early Thursday. Fox News, "At least 7 dead, dozens feared buried after quake hits northern Japan," 2 Oct. 2018 Don’t be scared by the idea of liquid in your computer—all-in-one coolers are sealed, dead simple to install, and don’t require regular maintenance. 5. Brad Chacos, PCWorld, "5 smoking-hot deals on PC components and peripherals," 29 Aug. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The only challenge—beside peeling yourself off the couch in the dead of summer—is that the lines will no doubt be absurd. Lindsay Schallon, Glamour, "Sephora Is Giving Away Free Face Masks, and There's No Catch," 25 July 2018 Then came the ultimate plot twist, when fan favorite Barb came back from the dead, emerging from the pool from where she was last seen. Harper's BAZAAR, "These Were the Best Moments of the 2017 Golden Globe Awards," 9 Jan. 2017 Few bodies have been recovered and officials have said many of the dead are likely trapped inside the vessel. Fox News, "Indonesia finds suspected location of sunken ferry 1,607 feet below surface," 25 June 2018 The names of the dead are being withheld until next of kin have been notified. Elyssa Cherney,, "2 dead after airplane crash in western Illinois," 24 June 2018 After the service, families of the dead planted an olive tree on the cathedral grounds, using compost made from floral tributes left by mourners after the attack. Jill Lawless, USA TODAY, "1 year after carnage on London bridge, victims' families and survivors pay tribute," 3 June 2018 The 41-day standoff ended with a law enforcement siege and a car chase and shooting that left one occupier dead. Matt Pearce,, "With two pardons, Trump wins goodwill in the ranching world," 11 July 2018 While the central metaphor of trees standing in for people is a bit on the nose, Kristen Martino's set and Daniel Friedman's lighting design evoke a liminal space where the future and past as well as the living and the dead can mingle freely. Dmitry Samarov, Chicago Reader, "The family in Sagittarius Ponderosa can only truly see one another in dreams," 6 July 2018 The girl’s mother said Thursday, June 28, 2018, that New Jersey doctors declared Jahi McMath dead after an operation to treat an intestinal issue. Washington Post, "Mother: Girl at center of debate over brain death dies," 28 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb

Reggie suddenly stops dead in his tracks, his eyes glued to a dog park. Chavie Lieber, Vox, "The startup world’s cuddly, cutthroat battle to walk your dog," 12 Sep. 2018 Eventually, two white men, both dead now, went on trial for the murder. Mary Schmich,, "The painful and necessary growth Emmett Till gave us," 13 July 2018 Mila’s loneliness grows substantially worse when her BFF is found dead the same week as two mean girls from their school, June and Dayton, off themselves in a suicide pact. Brian Truitt, USA TODAY, "Four hot novels for teens to dive into this summer vacation," 3 July 2018 This is the same home where in February, a fan was shot dead after breaking into Free's home. Jefferson Graham, USA TODAY, "Meet the Slow Mo Guys, at 343,000 frames a second," 13 Apr. 2018 Whenever the show returns to it, the momentum stops dead. Laura Collins-hughes, New York Times, "Review: ‘Folk Wandering,’ a Wistful Musical Full of Story and Searching," 4 Mar. 2018 Magill urged listeners not to touch frozen iguanas, warning that even those that appear dead may thaw out and become dangerous to humans. Jamie Ducharme, Time, "Here's What to Do If Frozen Iguanas Start Falling From Your Trees," 6 Jan. 2018 Once the phone went dead, Bagshaw's mother contacted a neighbor as well as police. Eric Levenson, CNN, "A Utah teen called her mom to talk. Her mother heard a fatal attack begin," 9 May 2018 In one of the most bizarre clashes of Everglades wildlife, a 13-foot Burmese python and a 6-foot American alligator both wound up dead more than a decade ago. Elizabeth Finny And Sonia Osorio, miamiherald, "Python vs. gator: A trapper steps in to save a life in the Everglades," 18 June 2018

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

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First Known Use of dead


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for dead


Middle English deed, from Old English dēad; akin to Old Norse dauthr dead, deyja to die, Old High German tōt dead — more at die


see dead entry 1


see dead entry 1

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Statistics for dead

Last Updated

2 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for dead

The first known use of dead was before the 12th century

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More Definitions for dead



English Language Learners Definition of dead

 (Entry 1 of 3)

: no longer alive or living : no longer having life

: not able to feel or move

: very tired



English Language Learners Definition of dead (Entry 2 of 3)

: people who have died

the dead : the state of being dead

: the time in the middle of the night or winter



English Language Learners Definition of dead (Entry 3 of 3)

: completely or totally

: in a sudden and complete way

: directly or exactly


\ˈded \

Kids Definition of dead

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : no longer living … the spider rolled over onto its back, unmarked, but unmistakably dead.— J. K. Rowling, Goblet of Fire

2 : having the look of death a dead faint

4 : very tired That was hard work. I'm dead.

5 : lacking motion, activity, energy, or power to function a dead battery

6 : no longer in use dead languages

7 : no longer active a dead volcano

8 : lacking warmth or vigor Make sure the fire is dead.

9 : not lively This party is dead.

10 : accurate, precise a dead shot

11 : being sudden and complete The ride came to a dead stop.

12 : complete entry 1 sense 1, total dead silence

13 : facing certain punishment If we get caught, we're dead.


plural dead

Kids Definition of dead (Entry 2 of 3)

1 : a person who is no longer alive

Hint: This sense of dead is usually used for all people who are no longer alive.
the living and the dead

2 : the time of greatest quiet or least activity the dead of night



Kids Definition of dead (Entry 3 of 3)

1 : in a whole or complete manner dead tired

2 : suddenly and completely stopped dead

3 : straight entry 2 sense 2 dead ahead


\ˈded \

Medical Definition of dead 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : deprived of life : having died dead of scarlet fever

2 : lacking power to move, feel, or respond : numb


plural dead

Medical Definition of dead (Entry 2 of 2)

: one that is dead usually used collectively

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More from Merriam-Webster on dead

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for dead

Spanish Central: Translation of dead

Nglish: Translation of dead for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of dead for Arabic Speakers

Comments on dead

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to enclose within walls

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