verb (used with object)

verb (used without object)

to act or serve as a deadhead.
(of a commercial vehicle) to travel without cargo or paying passengers: The train carried coal to Pittsburgh and then deadheaded back to Virginia to pick up another load.

Nearby words

  1. deadboy,
  2. deaden,
  3. deadening,
  4. deadeye,
  5. deadfall,
  6. deadlight,
  7. deadline,
  8. deadlock,
  9. deadlocked,
  10. deadly

Origin of deadhead

First recorded in 1570–80; dead + head Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for dead-headed

British Dictionary definitions for dead-headed



a dull unenterprising person
a person who uses a free ticket, as for a train, the theatre, etc
US and Canadian a train, etc, travelling empty
US and Canadian a totally or partially submerged log floating in a lake, etc


(tr) to cut off withered flowers from (a plant)
(intr) US and Canadian to drive an empty bus, train, etc
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for dead-headed



by 1974 in sense of "devotee of the rock music band the Grateful Dead;" earlier (with lower-case) "one who rides for free on the railroads" (1866), and "non-paying spectator" (1841).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper