Definition of derelict in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /ˈderəˌlikt/


1In a very poor condition as a result of disuse and neglect: the cities were derelict and dying
More example sentences
  • The derelict condition of the Market House has been criticised by the town council.
  • The majority of them were bought either in completely derelict condition, or as a collection of rusty parts.
  • A call has been made to officials of the Town Council to take action against the owners of five houses which are in a derelict condition.
dilapidated, ramshackle, run-down, tumbledown, in ruins, falling apart;
rickety, creaky, deteriorating, crumbling, disintegrating, decaying;
neglected, untended, gone to rack and ruin
disused, abandoned, deserted, discarded, rejected, neglected, untended
1.1chiefly North American (Of a person) shamefully negligent in not having done what one should have done: he was derelict in his duty to his country
More example sentences
  • Some held the two local commanders derelict in their duty; others concluded that they were simply guilty of errors of judgment.
  • What other cause finds you derelict in your responsibilities to your own people?
  • In my view he would be derelict in his duty if he didn't have a contingency plan.
negligent, neglectful, remiss, lax, careless, sloppy, slipshod, slack, irresponsible, delinquent


1A person without a home, job, or property: derelicts who could fit all their possessions in a paper bag
More example sentences
  • A group of vagabonds and derelicts inhabit a shelter in Moscow, presided over by a fanatical leader who preaches the love of everyone for everyone.
  • Following a homeless ‘state of emergency’, the federal government created a $753-million fund to get derelicts across Canada out of the dirt and into an edifice.
  • But the majority of menial workers and derelicts are, going by empirical evidence, first or second-generation immigrants with little in the way of hopes or prospects.
tramp, vagrant, vagabond, down and out, homeless person, drifter;
beggar, mendicant;
informal bag lady, hobo, bum
1.1A piece of property, especially a ship, abandoned by the owner and in poor condition.
Example sentences
  • We ran into the docking bay and could not believe the decrepit derelict of a ship that he had waiting for us.
  • If they can keep the boats from becoming derelicts, it means that much more money in the budget to do dredging and other debris removal.
  • Meanwhile, the U.S. Coast Guard has the authority to move derelicts that pose a hazard to navigation, but not to dispose of them.


Mid 17th century: from Latin derelictus 'abandoned', past participle of derelinquere, from de- 'completely' + relinquere 'forsake'.

  • This is from Latin derelictus, the past participle of derelinquere ‘abandon’, from de- ‘completely’ and relinquere ‘forsake’, found also in relinquish (Late Middle English).

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.