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Related to dead weight: Dead weight loss
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.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
A heavy or oppressive burden, as in That police record will be a dead weight on his career. This term alludes to the unrelieved weight of an inert mass. [Early 1700s]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
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.
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012
An oppressive burden or heavy responsibility. The physical attributes of such a weight were noted early on, but the figurative use of the expression dates from the early eighteenth century. The English philosopher Lord Shaftesbury (the third Earl) wrote (1711), “Pedantry and Bigotry are millstones able to sink the best Book, which carries the least part of their dead weight.”
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer