I am describing a problem regarding locations positioned next to each other where blocks are placed. For a given layout the locations next to blocks are unusable and in the next step no block might be placed here. For example, in the layout:


The first, fourth and sixth locations cannot be used later. I am looking for a word to describe it. So far i have unusable, or maybe dead space. Is there a better word for this? Thanks in advance!

Example sentence: In the layout above there are 3 ___. In another layout there is one __ less.

  • 2
    We need more of a clue as to what these "blocks" are and what rules govern their placement.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Apr 5, 2018 at 12:22
  • 1
    @HotLicks These blocks are shipping containers and the rules of their placements are governed by crane requirements. Commented Apr 5, 2018 at 12:47
  • 3
    I was going to suggest "dead space", but I see that you have included it in your question. I think it's a good fit.
    – Tom Fenech
    Commented Apr 5, 2018 at 16:18
  • What's wrong with 'unusable'? Commented Apr 5, 2018 at 18:23
  • and a fancy ...inutile!
    – lbf
    Commented Apr 5, 2018 at 21:47

7 Answers 7


Things that can be used are available for use. Those that can't are unavailable for use:

not able to be used or obtained; not at someone's disposal

This is a very general term that can be used in a variety of different ways. So, I think it will definitely work in your context.

  • 1
    Just as a note to this, not a crticism: unavailable suggests that they might become available at some point, eg when the current user stops using them, which doesn't quite fit the question. Perhaps "permanently unavailable" would be better. Commented Apr 6, 2018 at 14:32
  • 1
    @MaxWilliams Thank you for your suggestion. I guess, we'll have to leave that to the OP's discretion. Commented Apr 6, 2018 at 14:35

From Oxford Dictionary (online):

Reserved adj. : 2. kept specially for a particular purpose or person.

  • The reserved locations are spaces which may not be used for any other purpose at any time, as they are already serving their purpose.
  • 2
    In a similar vein, I think 'earmarked' could work as well. As in "these spaces are earmarked for X, so should not be used". Commented Apr 5, 2018 at 16:33
  • @Sean Burton ~ That's a great answer, you should post it!
    – Bread
    Commented Apr 5, 2018 at 21:07
  • 2
    Note that the difference between reserved and unavailable is that reserved items are usually declared a priori, while items may become unavailable as events unfold. Commented Apr 6, 2018 at 3:18

out-of-bounds works.

outside the playing boundaries of the field


Restricted, according to Cambridge Dictionary:

limited, especially by official rules, laws, etc.

In your case you could say:

The first, fourth and sixth locations are restricted.

Attribution: "Restricted Meaning in the Cambridge English Dictionary." Cambridge Dictionary. Accessed April 05, 2018. https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/restricted.


How about "void", "void space" or "null space"? Just an idea.

  • Please provide an explanation for your word choices, along with corroborating references and examples of usage.
    – Bread
    Commented Apr 6, 2018 at 12:19

In a similar vein to the suggestion of 'reserved', you could also use the 'earmarked':

Earmark: to set aside for a specific purpose, use, recipient, etc.: to earmark goods for export.

This would be used like "these spaces are earmarked for X, so should not be used for any other purpose".


How about

Unassignable not assignable (Merriam Webster)


Nonassignable not assignable (Merriam Webster)

Because they are spaces, but they just can't be allocated or assigned because of your crane.

Other options might be

Ineligible : not eligible: such as a : not qualified for an office or position b : not permitted under football rules to catch a forward pass an ineligible receiver

or just

Unusable : not capable of being used or fit for use : not usable

Finally, why not use 'unallocatable' or 'unallocable' which I can't find in any dictionary, but seem like perfectly good words for the requirement.

  • Use citations in answers, if you please.
    – lbf
    Commented Apr 6, 2018 at 14:17

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