Definition of deadhead in US English:



  • 1A fan and follower of the rock group the Grateful Dead.

    as modifier ‘the Deadhead hard core shadows the band, selling tie-dyes and beads’
    • ‘Any fan of the Grateful Dead can be termed a Deadhead.’
    • ‘Perhaps the most popular feature of the official Grateful Dead site is ‘DeadNet Central,’ a bulletin board service where Deadheads exchange information and debate about any and all topics.’
    • ‘As for the fans, well, I once heard an interviewer ask Jerry Garcia how he felt about all of these Deadheads putting all of their time, energy, and money into the Grateful Dead.’
    • ‘I was a Deadhead from the first day Hamilton played them for me in school, and I always will be.’
    • ‘Grateful Dreams will no doubt appeal to Deadheads who have an interest in this man who contributed a few years to the band.’
    • ‘Simultaneously, they have become a large demographic, the next generation of the Deadheads.’
    • ‘Through the songs and their shared point of view the Deadheads are keeping alive an outlook on how to live life to its fullest.’
    • ‘Part of touring for me was meeting fellow Deadheads from around the country.’
    • ‘Adams designed a course based on attending a series of Grateful Dead concerts, and then having the students conduct a sociological analysis of the Deadheads.’
    • ‘If you hang around with Deadheads long enough, eventually you will hear them talk about this book, or you will see it on their bookshelves.’
    • ‘The Deadheads gave the Grateful Dead a steady revenue stream and a safe harbor.’
    • ‘There was an especially loud contingent of people down front, who apparently follow him from concert to concert, a la the Grateful Dead's Deadheads.’
    • ‘The community also became a haven for Deadheads seeking news on the Grateful Dead.’
    • ‘The editor is a reference librarian who also coauthored with David Dodd The Grateful Dead and the Deadheads: An Annotated Bibliography.’
    • ‘One of the nicest, friendliest, and most fun concerts I have ever seen, and about as different in atmosphere from a modern Dead show as you could imagine - except, of course, that almost all the audience were Deadheads.’
    • ‘The Deadhead attachment remains, for the most part, cool.’
    • ‘This is not such a stretch, considering Ranaldo's upbringing as a Deadhead who got turned on to alternate tunings through Joni Mitchell and Neil Young records.’
    • ‘There are J. Garcia carpets that my mother would be happy to have in her house, and she's not a Deadhead.’
    • ‘The second disc contains material culled from various shows in 1966, and even the seasoned Deadhead should find something surprising.’
    • ‘It did not take me long to become a true tie-dyed Deadhead, and in fact I have often wondered why I was such a late arrival.’
  • 2informal A boring or unenterprising person.

    • ‘Guess if everything went smoothly all the time we'd all be deadheads like Yevy accused me of being.’
    • ‘You were a total deadhead in their eyes - and you knew that, too.’
    • ‘She was stunned that her layabout deadhead son could produce such sensitive pieces and she was very encouraging.’
    • ‘I've been writing about Wez in my journal lately, the deadhead who lives downstairs from me and Adam.’
    • ‘We are left to speculate the girl is just a deadhead, and in her indecision, powers on, deciding to live in the future, never looking back.’
    • ‘Weir reminds us of the power of each person: ‘If every deadhead in the state of Florida had voted in the last election, it would be a very different world today.’’
    • ‘The idea that liberalism is something confined to a few deadheads on the coasts is a shibboleth.’
    • ‘She seemed perfectly content to sit there and jaw away with this deadhead for the rest of the night if she had to.’
    • ‘When I was in high school, the students fell into many different groups: preps, jocks, cheerleaders, punks, deadheads, druggies, geeks, and all the rest.’
    • ‘Maybe a vengeful sibling of some deadhead kid who decided to try and abuse a program I had a hand in?’
  • 3North American A passenger or member of an audience with a free ticket.

    • ‘He begins traveling all around the country as a "deadhead" -- riding free on competitors' airliners -- passing checks, and working toward a goal more unrealistic than he realizes: he wants to reconcile his parents.’
    • ‘I just wanted to let you all know we have announced our deadhead ticket giveaway.’
    1. 3.1US informal A commercial carrier with no paying passengers or freight on a trip.
      • ‘In addition, carriers are playing ‘musical chairs,’ replacing existing customers and lanes with opportunities that minimize deadhead miles and increase overall profitability.’
      • ‘Seemingly doomed to playing the sticks, Osius prepared to pack up his eye-goggling togs and catch the deadhead milk-run back to Wisconsin.’
      • ‘Passenger miles exclude travel to and from storage facilities, training operations, road tests and deadhead travel, as well as school bus and charter service.’
  • 4A sunken or partially submerged log.

    • ‘Another hazard to keep in mind during the pre-spawn is deadheads under the water.’
    • ‘Many "deadheads" can be seen sticking out of the water, and some caution needs to be taken to avoid submerged ones if you are paddling close to the shore.’


  • 1North American informal no object (of a commercial driver, etc.) complete a trip without paying passengers or freight.

    ‘trucks deadheading into California to pick up outbound loads’
    • ‘He was expressing anger that the deadheading train passed him by.’
    • ‘The train was unique in that Ashland was the last stop, following which the train deadheaded back to Camden.’
    • ‘If you're traveling one way, expect to pay for the empty car to deadhead home.’
    • ‘The train was ready after its 5 minute station time but was held another 15 minutes for a deadheading CSX Office Car Special that was pulling into Savannah on another platform track.’
    • ‘The train deadheaded to Vancouver and I understand the mucky mucks will board in the morning and head south sometime after 08:00 today towards Seattle.’
    • ‘This was our SUNSET LIMITED, deadheading from Sanford and headed somewhere south of Orlando to be wyed.’
    • ‘The weekend was a fine one for the spare board, with engines and trains deadheading back and forth making it even better.’
    1. 1.1US Ride (in a plane or other vehicle) without paying for a ticket.
      ‘he calls his airline and gets a seat on the red-eye to deadhead to Boston’
      • ‘We often deadhead (fly as passengers) to our next assignment.’
      • ‘On Sunday evening, I deadheaded on a flight to Seattle and had a scheduled arrival time of 8:04 PM.’
      • ‘So this morning, early, we deadheaded home in a van.’
      • ‘That was all right though, cause I didn't have a back haul lined up and I couldn't afford to deadhead back to Pittsburgh.’
      • ‘We deadheaded to Russell, where we were relieved.’
  • 2with object Remove dead flower heads from (a plant) to encourage further blooming.

    • ‘Anything that blooms now gets immediately deadheaded.’
    • ‘Pansies are ideal and will flower for many weeks with regular feeding, watering and deadheading.’
    • ‘You need to deadhead for exactly the same reasons you need a good haircut: health and volume.’
    • ‘The more you pick and deadhead, the longer the plants produce flowers.’
    • ‘Young plants should be deadheaded after flowering so that the energy they would have spent on fruit or seed then goes into more shoots.’
    • ‘Capon deadheads plants once a month, pruning out stray branches and keeping plants compact.’
    • ‘It seems anathema to most gardeners to go against their natural instincts to prune, train, stake, deadhead, divide and generally fuss on the plants in their gardens.’
    • ‘But it's definitely high maintenance, with something always needing thinning, pruning, deadheading, dividing, or pampering.’
    • ‘To keep annuals blooming at the peak of their ability, deadhead regularly.’
    • ‘After the first frost in your area, stop deadheading and cutting flowers (unless they're so spectacular you just can't resist).’
    • ‘In the annual and perennial border it is often enough to just deadhead plants, trim back spent foliage and remove the odd weed to free up your favourites.’
    • ‘As you water, weed and deadhead, get to know your plants.’
    • ‘You'll also want to deadhead all your begonias regularly; removing wilted leaves and flowers encourages them to produce more blooms.’
    • ‘Does the idea of planting some superb container plants that don't require deadheading or pruning sound appealing to you?’
    • ‘Finally, be sure to deadhead faded or drooping blossoms and leaves.’
    • ‘Gardeners require space in the beds so that they can weed, deadhead and prune.’
    • ‘In addition, deadheading spent blossoms regularly will encourage further blooming.’
    • ‘Keep the spent clusters deadheaded and this shrub will bloom into the fall.’
    • ‘The colors should be restful, and the plantings should be such that you don't enter the space seeking a rest and then find yourself forever leaping up to pull a weed or deadhead something.’
    • ‘Always avoid breaking off any of the small growth buds below the flowers when you are deadheading.’