General English

  • adverb completely


  • adjective not working


  • adjective used to describe a computer or piece of equipment that does not function


  • Refers to a conductor that is not connected to an electrical source.


  • adjective (of the wicket) lacking pace and bounce, and generally unresponsive. A ‘dead’ wicket gives little assistance to the bowler, but it does not offer much help to the batsman either.
    Citation ‘G Swain, Esq. and Lieutenant Surman took the bat first, and played very steadily, but could not make many runs, the ground being very dead’ (Lillywhite 1860)
  • adjective (of the ball) no longer in play according to the laws of the game, for any of a wide variety of reasons. The ball becomes dead, e.g., when a batsman is out, if it gets lost, or if it becomes lodged in the clothing of either the batsman or the umpires. Most importantly, there is always a stage between one delivery and the next when the ball is temporarily ‘dead’, either because it has crossed the boundary or because it has become ‘finally settled in the hands of the wicket-keeper or the bowler’ (Law 23 § 1(a)). In all such cases the ball’s ‘deadness’ is implicit, and it is not actually pronounced dead by the umpire. There is, however, a further set of circumstances, outlined in Law 23 § 3, in which the umpires may intervene and declare the ball dead – as e.g., when ‘the striker is distracted by any noise or movement …while he is preparing to receive or receiving a delivery’ (23 § 3.(b) (vi)), and most notably if the umpire ‘intervenes in a case of unfair play’ (23 § 3.(b) (i)). In cases such as these the umpire calls ‘dead ball’ and signals to the scorers ‘by crossing and re-crossing the wrists below the waist’ (Law 3 § 14 (a)). Once the ball becomes or is pronounced dead, it remains out of play until the bowler starts his run-up to deliver the next ball, and so long as the ball is dead no wicket can be taken and no runs scored. Finally, it is worth noticing that the ball does not become dead if the wicket is put down by a fielder without thereby dismissing the batsman, or if an unsuccessful appeal is made: in both cases the batsmen may still attempt to take runs and the fielding side may still attempt to run them out. Compare in play (
    See play


  • Describing a component, circuit, or device which is disconnected from a source of voltage. Also known as cold (1).
  • Describing a circuit or component which is at ground potential. Also known as cold (2).
  • Not in use, or out of operation.
  • No longer in use, or no longer operating.


  • adjective in some sports, used to describe a ball that has crossed the boundary of the playing area

Origin & History of “dead”

Dead is part of a Germanic family of adjectives (including also German tot, Dutch dood, Swedish död, and Gothic dauths) which come from a prehistoric Germanic adjective *dauthaz. this in turn came from an earlier *dhautós, which was the past participle of the verb base that eventually produced English die (thus etymologically dead is in effect a precursor of died). The word’s ultimate source was Indo-European *dheu-, which some have linked with Greek thánatos ‘dead’.