dead有时=completely或 very much?

Dear Prof. Zheng,


I found this sentence interesting:


She was dead tired after she worked for several hours.


I understand that sometimes the word "dead" is used to mean completely or very. So can we always use the word "dead" as an adverb to express the meaning "completely" before an adjective?


Best wishes,




Hi, Tom,

Thank you for your question. It is interesting, indeed.

You were right to use the word dead to mean completely or very much. But remember the word dead used for this sense is informal.It is mostly used in spoken English for emphasis in British English. Here are some more examples for your reference:


Louis is also dead easy for people to get to. 

Jane's poems sound dead boring, actually. 

They are dead against the legalisation of drugs. 


Nonetheless, I am afraid this usage isn't entirely acceptable to modify all adjectives. For instance, we don't say like this:


*The child is dead hungry.


Instead, we say:


The child is starving.


Here is another example:


*He is dead cunning.


Instead, we say:


He is deceitful.