a dead weight

dead weight

1. The weight of someone who is sleeping, unconscious, or intentionally limp, making them more difficult to move or carry than they would be otherwise. Jamie struggled with the dead weight of her sleeping 10-year-old son when she tried to carry him to bed.
2. A burden that holds someone or something else back or prevents progress; someone or something that when handled or associated with conveys only difficulty and not benefit. You've been dead weight this entire road trip. You've just sat there without driving or paying for gas or anything! All those empty containers are dead weight. We're going to have to jettison them if we want to have enough fuel to make it back.
See also: dead, weight

a dead weight

A dead weight is something that makes change or progress extremely difficult. We must reduce the dead weight of bureaucracy. The company is already struggling under the dead weight of $14 billion debt.
See also: dead, weight
References in classic literature ?
Marian had been like a sack of meal, a dead weight of plumpness under which he has literally staggered.
Before I could stoop for it there was a dead weight on my left arm, and Squire Rattray was over the table at a bound, with his arms jostling mine beneath Eva Denison's senseless form.
There was a noise like that of a stone hitting a wall, a deep groan, her grasp relaxed, and she dropped a dead weight upon the pavement, while the Admiral sprang back and raised his stick once more, ready either for attack or defense.
In such a party, Harriet would be rather a dead weight than otherwise; but for the poor girl herself, it seemed a peculiarly cruel necessity that was to be placing her in such a state of unmerited punishment.
He felt the woman who was clinging to his arm become suddenly a dead weight.
They unloaded a dead weight in Jeff Cirillo, but they also lost Mike Cameron, who might have had an inconsistent bat but was in the upper echelon of defensive center fielders.