[ded-hed] Informal.
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.
a train, railroad car, airplane, truck, or other commercial vehicle while operating empty, as when returning to a terminal.
a stupid or boring person; dullard.
Metallurgy. excess metal in the riser of a mold.
a sunken or partially sunken log.
verb (used with object)
to transport (someone) as a deadhead.
to move (an empty commercial vehicle) along a route.
Horticulture. to remove faded blooms from (ornamental plants), especially in flower gardens, often to help continued blooming.
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.

1570–80; dead + head Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
deadhead (ˈdɛdˌhɛd)
1.  a dull unenterprising person
2.  a person who uses a free ticket, as for a train, the theatre, etc
3.  (US), (Canadian) a train, etc, travelling empty
4.  (US), (Canadian) a totally or partially submerged log floating in a lake, etc
5.  (tr) to cut off withered flowers from (a plant)
6.  (US), (Canadian) (intr) to drive an empty bus, train, etc

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

1970s in sense of "devotee of the band the Grateful Dead;" earlier "train or truck carrying no passengers or freight" (1911) and "non-paying spectator" (1841).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang Dictionary

deadhead definition

  1. n.
    a stupid person. : Wow, are you a deadhead!
  2. tv. & in.
    [for someone] to return an empty truck, train, airplane, etc., to where it came from. : I deadheaded back to Los Angeles.
  3. n.
    a follower of the rock group the Grateful Dead. : My son is a deadhead and travels all over listening to these guys.
Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions by Richard A. Spears.Fourth Edition.
Copyright 2007. Published by McGraw-Hill Education.
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Example sentences
With repeat-flowering kinds, deadhead spent blooms regularly, cutting back
  several inches to a five-leaflet leaf.
Fertilize, water, and deadhead occasionally for a riot of bloom and texture all
  summer long.
The total hours of travel by bus, including both revenue service and deadhead
Some of the lakes were the repositories for slab wood, sawdust, and deadhead
  logs left after early logging.
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