Deadbeat is a compound word. To form a compound or compound word, two separate words are joined together to form another word. Deadbeat is a closed compound word, which is a word that is made up of two words joined together without a hyphen or space. This type of compound is also called a solid compound word. Deadbeat is also seen in its hyphenated form, dead-beat, but rarely. The preferred spelling in the Oxford English Dictionary is deadbeat. A hyphenated compound word is a compound that is composed of two or more words linked by hyphens. In general, hyphenated compound words are midway on the journey between being rendered as separate words to being rendered as one word. A compound word composed of two separate words, without hyphenation, is an open compound word. With the advent of the internet and a more relaxed attitude toward spelling, many compound words have quickly gone from hyphenated compound words to closed compound words. We will examine the definition of the word deadbeat, its etymology or word origin, and some examples of its use in sentences.

A deadbeat is a person who does not pay his debts, a lazy person who does not work and depends on others to pay his way, a gigolo or other type of parasite who allows others to pay his expenses so that he may indulge himself. A deadbeat does not earn his own way, nor does he shoulder responsibilities. The compound word deadbeat was first used at the turn of the nineteenth century to mean someone who was extremely tired. In this usage, the word beat meant being exhausted. By the mid-1800s, the word deadbeat took on another meaning–an idler or a lazy person who shirked his work and duty. In this usage, the word beat meant to cheat or defraud. It is believed that this definition of deadbeat came into use in the United States during the Civil War. Deadbeat is used as a compound noun or a compound adjective, the plural form is deadbeats.


The 60-second video, titled “Who Is Greg Stumbo?,” refers to Stumbo as “a deadbeat dad.” (The Lexington Herald-Leader)

“Let’s face it, Han’s kind of deadbeat dad,” Kambam said. (The Orange County Register)

Democratic presidential candidate Kirsten Gillibrand had a captive audience here to debut her new “deadbeat tax” plan to recoup taxpayer dollars from companies that move jobs out of the country. (The Cincinnati Enquirer)

In one scene, a couple of deadbeat truthers skeptically size-up Maron as “East Coast” (a euphemism that is quickly dropped when they derogatorily call him a Jew a minute later), but overall, Shelton doesn’t delve into the dark, racist corners of the Deep State/Confederate Lost-Causer ideologies she’s referencing. (Little Village Magazine)

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