from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. An idle, irresponsible person.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A person without a means of support; an idle, worthless person; a loafer; a person who is ineffectual, unsuccessful, or completely lacking in merit; a good-for-nothing.
  • n. A person who is up to no good; a rogue.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A person who never does, or fares, well; a good for nothing.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Likely never to do well; past mending.
  • n. One whose conduct indicates that he will never do well; a good-for-nothing.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. an idle worthless person


Sorry, no etymologies found.


  • In some ways his performance in The Kids Are All Right is a sequel of sorts to the role that first brought him to Hollywood's attention, as Laura Linney's ne'er-do-well brother in the 2000 indie hit You Can Count On Me.

    Mark Ruffalo: the 'journeyman' who's impressed Martin Scorsese, David Fincher and Michel Gondry

  • Researchers gave 105 students at the University of British Columbia a description of a generic ne'er-do-well—for example, he finds a wallet on the street, takes the cash and tosses the wallet.

    Week in Ideas: Christopher Shea

  • If securities regulators across the nation work together more effectively, Mr. Borg adds, they could reverse the traditional calculation by ne'er-do-well securities firms and brokers that "the reward has always outweighed the risk, even on bad products."

    In Alabama, Beware the Borg

  • "We'll see that he's the kind of ne'er-do-well who will bring his 12-year-old daughter on a bounty-hunting expedition."

    Exclusive: Henry Thomas Guest-Stars on The Mentalist

  • Ed Norton stars in this film about twin brothers -- one a professor at Brown University, the other a redneck -- who come back together in Oklahoma when the ne'er-do-well, marijuana-dealing brother is implicated in a criminal matter.

    Ed Koch: Leaves of Grass (A Mayor Koch Review)

  • However, we still hadn't found an actress for the peach role of the nutty, born-again aunt who tries to run everyone's life, particularly her ne'er-do-well son's, by using literal advice taken straight from her Bible.

    David Dean Bottrell: Farewell, Mrs. Cleaver

  • You can hear it in the tight-lipped anguish of Lady Hester Collyer, the suicidal heroine of "The Deep Blue Sea," who has left her proper husband for a ne'er-do-well test pilot.

    Terence Rattigan, Forgotten Centenarian

  • He connected to dots on how Howard Hughes secretly funneled cash to Nixon's ne'er-do-well brother Donald (who dreamed of starting a "Nixonburgers" fast-food chain).

    Michael Hudson: Digging Deep: A Treasury of Books About Journalism

  • Besides, had not her own cousin, -- though a remote and distant one to be sure, the black sheep, the harum-scarum, the ne'er-do-well, -- had not he come down out of that weird North country with a hundred thousand in yellow dust, to say nothing of a half-ownership in the hole from which it came?


  • Second is Bellamy's half-brother, Jacques (Clovis Cornillac), a ne'er-do-well who's temporarily tapped out, apparently not an uncommon situation with him.

    Marshall Fine: HuffPost Review: Inspector Bellamy


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  • Your story's sad to tell

    A teenage ne'er-do-well

    Most mixed-up non-delinquent on the block

    Your future's so unclear now

    What's left of your career now?

    Can't even get a trade-in on your smock

    "Beauty School Dropout" from Grease

    April 13, 2009