American English

Definition of dead adjective from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary



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    not alive
  1. 1no longer alive My mother's dead; she died in 1987. a dead person/animal dead leaves/wood/skin He was shot dead by a gunman outside his home. Catherine's dead body lay peacefully on the bed. He dropped dead (= died suddenly) last week. The poor child looks more dead than alive. (figurative) In ten years he'll be dead and buried as a politician.
  2. idea/belief/plan
  3. 2[not before noun] no longer believed in or aimed for Many believe the peace plan is dead. Unfortunately racism is not yet dead. Though the idea may be dead, it is far from being buried (= people still talk about it, even though there is nothing new to say).
  4. not used
  5. 3belonging to the past; no longer practiced or fashionable Is the Western a dead art form? a dead language (= one that is no longer spoken, for example Latin)
  6. finished
  7. 4(informal) finished; not able to be used any more dead matches There were two dead bottles of wine on the table.
  8. machine
  9. 5(of machines or equipment) not working because of a lack of power a dead battery The hard disk is dead. Suddenly the phone went dead.
  10. place
  11. 6(informal) (disapproving) very quiet, without activity or interest There were no theaters, no clubs, and no coffee bars. It was dead as anything.
  12. business
  13. 7(informal) (disapproving) without activity; with no one buying or selling anything “The market is absolutely dead this morning,” said one foreign exchange trader. Winter is traditionally the dead season for the housing market.
  14. tired
  15. 8[not usually before noun] (informal) extremely tired; not well half dead with cold and hunger She felt dead on her feet and didn't have the energy to question them further.
  16. without feeling
  17. 9[not before noun] (of a part of the body) unable to feel because of cold, etc. synonym numb My left arm had gone dead.
  18. 10dead to something unable to feel or understand emotions synonym insensitive He was dead to all feelings of pity.
  19. 11(especially of someone's voice, eyes, or face) showing no emotion synonym expressionless She said, “I'm sorry, too,” in a quiet, dead voice. His usually dead gray eyes were sparkling.
  20. complete/exact
  21. 12[only before noun] complete or exact a dead silence/calm the dead center of the target The car gave a sudden jerk and came to a dead stop. She crumpled to the floor in a dead faint (= completely unconscious).
  22. never alive
  23. 13never having been alive dead matter (= for example rock) a dead planet (= one with no life on it)
  24. in sports
  25. 14used to describe the ball at a time when play must stop during a game The ball is dead when it's out of bounds. opposite live2
  26. Idioms
    beat/flog a dead horse (informal)
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    to waste your effort by trying to do something that is no longer possible
    be dead and gone (informal)
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    to be dead You'll be sorry you said that when I'm dead and gone.
    be a dead ringer for somebody (informal)
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    to look very like someone She's a dead ringer for a girl I used to know.
    (as) dead as a doornail (informal)
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    completely dead
    a dead duck (informal)
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    a plan, an event, etc., that has failed or is certain to fail and that is therefore not worth discussing
    the dead hand of something
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    an influence that controls or restricts something We need to free business from the dead hand of bureaucracy.
    dead in the water
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    a person or plan that is dead in the water has failed and has little hope of succeeding in the future His leadership campaign is dead in the water.
    dead meat (informal)
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    in serious trouble If anyone finds out, you're dead meat.
      dead on arrival (abbreviation DOA)
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    1. 1(of an accident victim or other patient) already dead when arriving at the hospital She was pronounced dead on arrival. He didn't even make it to the hospital: DOA. Many of the casualties were dead on arrival.
    2. 2(informal) very unlikely to be successful; not working when it is delivered The bill was dead on arrival in the Senate. The software was DOA.
    dead to rights (informal)
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    with definite proof of having committed a crime, so that you cannot claim to be innocent We've got you dead to rights handling stolen property.
    dead to the world
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    fast asleep
    knock somebody dead (informal)
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    to impress someone very much You look fabulous—you'll knock 'em dead tonight.
    over my dead body (informal)
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    used to show you are strongly opposed to something She moves into our home over my dead body.
    somebody wouldn't be seen/caught dead… (informal)
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    used to say that you would not like to wear particular clothes, or to be in a particular situation She wouldn't be seen dead in a hat. He wouldn't be caught dead going to a club with his mother.
See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: dead