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.
  3. a stupid or boring person; dullard.
  4. Metallurgy. excess metal in the riser of a mold.
  5. 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.
  3. 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.


  1. a dull unenterprising person
  2. a person who uses a free ticket, as for a train, the theatre, etc
  3. US and Canadian a train, etc, travelling empty
  4. 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

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).

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