[ ded-hed ]
See synonyms for deadhead on
  1. a person who attends a performance, sports event, etc., or travels on a train, airplane, etc., without having paid for a ticket, especially a person using a complimentary ticket or free pass.

  2. a train, railroad car, airplane, truck, or other commercial vehicle while operating empty, as when returning to a terminal.

  1. a stupid or boring person; dullard.

  2. Metallurgy. excess metal in the riser of a mold.

  3. a sunken or partially sunken log.

verb (used with object)
  1. to transport (someone) as a deadhead.

  2. to move (an empty commercial vehicle) along a route.

  1. Horticulture. to remove faded blooms from (ornamental plants), especially in flower gardens, often to help continued blooming.

verb (used without object)
  1. to act or serve as a deadhead.

  2. (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.

Origin of deadhead

First recorded in 1570–80; dead + head

Words Nearby deadhead Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use deadhead in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for deadhead


/ (ˈdɛdˌhɛd) /

  1. a dull unenterprising person

  2. a person who uses a free ticket, as for a train, the theatre, etc

  1. US and Canadian a train, etc, travelling empty

  2. US and Canadian a totally or partially submerged log floating in a lake, etc

  1. (tr) to cut off withered flowers from (a plant)

  2. (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