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BBC quotes President Obama:

America is "not a deadbeat nation", US President Barack Obama has said, as he warned Republicans unconditionally to approve a rise in the US debt ceiling.

It appears to me that deadbeat in this context is an adjective.

The definition of deadbeat lists it solely as a noun. Has President Obama used deadbeat incorrectly?

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The definition is for the noun, but the example usages and two of the three quotes are adjectives. More to the point, every noun an English can be used as an adjective. Or a verb. And vice versa. –  RegDwigнt Jan 15 '13 at 10:52
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2 Answers 2

No, it's fine: any noun can function as an "adjective", for example library in library book.

Technically it's called a noun adjunct or attributive noun and has a Wikipedia entry.

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So the word 'Wikipedia' is an noun adjunct in the Wikipedia entry 'noun adjunct'. –  Fortiter Jan 15 '13 at 11:05
    
Noun adjuncts aren’t really adjectives: we would not say that with a library book, that the book was a library, nor with a Wikipedia entry, that the entry was Wikipedia. –  tchrist Aug 10 '13 at 23:43
    
No (or possibly Yes: I agree, anyway), in "function as an adjective" I simply meant it fulfilled the function of providing additional information describing the main noun. In the case of many [most? all?] noun adjuncts, they describe the type of something. –  Andrew Leach Aug 11 '13 at 8:16
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Look up the term "deadbeat dad definition" in a Google search window and you'll find 240,000+ hits. Wikipedia says this about "deadbeat parent": "Deadbeat parent is a term referring to parents of either gender that have chosen not to be financially supportive of their children. Primarily used in the United States and Canada,...".

The usage rules in English allow nouns to be used as adjectives, so this is no problem.

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