Learning new idioms is one of those aspects of language learning that never really stops.
In fact, it’s not uncommon to encounter unfamiliar idioms or new pieces of slang not just in a language that you’re learning but in your native language.
Some idioms in English seem very puzzling, like “cats in the cradle.”
Others make a lot more sense when you understand that one or more of the words has another, less common meaning. This is the case with the phrase “dead right.”
What is the meaning of the expression “dead right”?
“Dead right” is an idiom that means that something is exactly correct, with absolutely no doubt.
“Dead right” in more detail
When you see the word “dead,” you probably assume that there’s bad news.
But if you’ve just encountered the phrase “dead right,” before you start searching out how to write a sympathy letter, take a deep breath and relax. No one has died!
“Dead” can be used as emphasis with certain words, including “right.” So when you see it used with “right,” you know that there is no question about whether the thing is correct or not.
Once you understand this meaning of “dead,” you may see it used idiomatically in other ways as well.
Its opposite is also common. You can be “dead wrong,” meaning that you are completely wrong about something without any doubt.
You can also be “dead on,” which has the same meaning as “dead right” of being completely correct.
You may be well aware that thanks to the rise and spread of English as a global language, there are words and phrases that you hear in some countries and not others.
All of the above uses are common in American English and British English.
Note also that in British English, “dead” can be applied to many other adjectives for emphasis.
For example, someone with a great sense of humor might be “dead funny.”
However, you would be unlikely to hear “dead” paired with other adjectives this way in American English. In American English, “dead” is generally only used for emphasis with “right,” “wrong” and “on.”
All of these uses of “dead” in both British and American English are for casual conversation or writing.
How do you use “dead right” in a sentence?
You can use “dead right” in a sentence any time you want to emphasize that someone is completely right about something as long are you in a relatively casual situation.
Here are a few examples:
You may also encounter it in conversation:
“Yes, his figures were dead right.”
“No, it’s dead right. You’re holding it upside down.”
Comparison of “dead right” with “dead to rights”
Make sure that you don’t mix up “dead right” with another commonly used idiom, “dead to rights.”
These two phrases may look similar, but they mean different things and are not interchangeable.
“Dead to rights” means that someone has overwhelming evidence of another person’s guilt or that they have even caught them in the act of doing something.
Here’s how you would use it:
When they found the jewels hidden in his room, they knew they had him dead to rights.
Hey fellow Linguaholics! It’s me, Marcel. I am the proud owner of linguaholic.com. Languages have always been my passion and I have studied Linguistics, Computational Linguistics and Sinology at the University of Zurich. It is my utmost pleasure to share with all of you guys what I know about languages and linguistics in general.