• WordNet 3.6
    • n ne'er-do-well an idle worthless person
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Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
    • n Ne'er-do-well A person who never does, or fares, well; a good for nothing. "The idle and dissolute ne'er-do-wells of their communities."
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Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
    • adj., n Ne'er-do-well past all well-doing: one who is good for nothing
    • ***


In literature:

If she marries that handsome ne'er-do-well, she'll be a wretched woman all her days and none to pity her.
"Lucy Maud Montgomery Short Stories, 1909 to 1922" by Lucy Maud Montgomery
It is the poor woman's ne'er-do-well husband.
"An Old Man's Love" by Anthony Trollope
His father had no love for him, and called him a ne'er-do-well.
"Fairy Tales of the Slav Peasants and Herdsmen" by Alexander Chodsko
They said I was a ne'er-do-well.
"The Hero of Ticonderoga" by John de Morgan
What sort of talks and beliefs had the girl been accustomed to in companionship with her ne'er-do-well father?
"The Opened Shutters" by Clara Louise Burnham
Not straight-grained as in good wood; hence the perverse and vexatious disposition of the ne'er-do-wells.
"The Sailor's Word-Book" by William Henry Smyth
Is it not a pity that he should be such a ne'er-do-well?
"Linda Tressel" by Anthony Trollope
Is a man a ne'er-do-well, a drunkard, an idler?
"A Poor Man's House" by Stephen Sydney Reynolds
She guessed that he was a ne'er-do-well, who had come out to the States to redeem his fallen fortune.
"The Secret House" by Edgar Wallace
She also had a strange patience and tenderness for those ne'er-do-wells of whom even the kindest grow weary after a time.
"Studies in love and in terror" by Marie Belloc Lowndes

In poetry:

The gracious knight full well does weet
Ten farthings ne'er will do
To keep a man each day in meat;
Some bread to meat is due.
"The Wandering Pilgrim" by Matthew Prior

In news:

President Obama's half brother, who has gained a reputation in Kenya as the family's ne'er-do-well, is making headlines again.
President Obama's half brother , who has gained a reputation in Kenya as the family's ne'er-do-well, is making headlines again.
A kind of ne'er-do-well indigenous to the Northwest Corner.
Ed Masley is the poet laureate of romantically challenged, over-educated, ne'er-do-wells, channeling the clever knock-kneed misanthropy of Elvis Costello.
That ne'er-do-well who jostled everyone around and extorted your lunch money.
Just when you thought Kickstarter was a fairy land where money magically appeared for worthy artistic endeavors and nary a ne'er-do-well could be found, something like this happens.
The stage is full of cheaters, grifters, thieves, and ne'er do wells.
Her father, Robert Carson, was a ne'er-do-well whose ventures inevitably failed.
Released from juvenile hall, a bare-chested, bohemian ne'er-do-well goes on a vindictive rampage.
Ne'er-do-wells lurk in the lyrics of this PNW band.
Someday, ne'er do wells will discover that the cover-up is often worse than the crime.
The word can conjure up unsavory images: leather-clad ne'er-do-wells brandishing whips, emotionally crippled Dungeons and Dragons aficionados prancing in military regalia.