Definition of dead adjective from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



    BrE BrE//ded//
    ; NAmE NAmE//ded//
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    not alive
  1. 1  no 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. See related entries: Death
  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. 3  belonging to the past; no longer practised 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 Suddenly the phone went dead.
  10. place
  11. 6(informal, disapproving) very quiet, without activity or interest There were no theatres, no cinemas, no coffee bars. It was dead as anything.
  12. business
  13. 7(informal, disapproving) without activity; with nobody 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 somebody’s voice, eyes or face) showing no emotion synonym expressionless She said, ‘I'm sorry, too,’ in a quiet, dead voice. His usually dead grey eyes were sparkling.
  20. complete/exact
  21. 12[only before noun] complete or exact a dead silence/calm the dead centre of the target The car gave a sudden jerk and came to a dead stop. (British English) This horse is a dead cert for (= will certainly win) the race tomorrow. 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 sport
  25. 14outside the playing area
  26. Word OriginOld English dēad, of Germanic origin: related to Dutch dood and German tot, also to die.Extra examples By the time the police arrived, he was already dead. Gunmen shot dead a policeman. Gunmen shot dead two unarmed police officers. He just dropped dead one day at work. He just dropped dead one day in his garden. His wife lay dead beside him. I’m afraid he’s quite dead. Poor child, she looks more dead than alive. She had been struck dead by lightning. She was declared dead on arrival at the hospital. That won’t happen until long after I’m dead and gone. The animal will sometimes escape danger by playing dead. The woman was found dead with a rope around her neck. We didn’t know whether the fish was dead or alive. Catherine’s dead body lay peacefully on the bed. He dropped dead last week. My mother’s dead; she died in 1997. a dead person/​animal/​tree dead leaves/​wood/​skinIdioms (informal) to be dead You'll be sorry you said that when I'm dead and gone.
    be a dead ringer for somebody
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    (informal) to look very like somebody She's a dead ringer for a girl I used to know.
    (as) dead as a/the dodo
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    (British English, informal) completely dead; no longer interesting or valid In the second half both teams made substitutions to try and liven things up, but the game was as dead as a dodo. More Like ThisSimiles in idioms (as) bald as a coot, (as) blind as a bat, (as) bright as a button, (as) bold as brass, as busy as a bee, as clean as a whistle, (as) dead as a/​the dodo, (as) deaf as a post, (as) dull as ditchwater, (as) fit as a fiddle, as flat as a pancake, (as) good as gold, (as) mad as a hatter/​a March hare, (as) miserable/​ugly as sin, as old as the hills, (as) pleased as Punch, as pretty as a picture, (as) regular as clockwork, (as) quick as a flash, (as) safe as houses, (as) sound as a bell, (as) steady as a rock, (as) thick as two short planks, (as) tough as old bootsSee worksheet.
    (as) dead as a doornail
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    (informal) completely dead
    (informal) 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.
    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. (informal) 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 hospital She was pronounced dead on arrival. He didn’t even make it to hospital: DOA. Many of the casualties were dead on arrival.
    2. 2(North American English, 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.
    fast asleep (informal) to waste your effort by trying to do something that is no longer possible (informal) to impress somebody very much You look fabulous—you'll knock 'em dead tonight. (informal) 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…
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    (informal) 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 American Dictionary entry: dead