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clay pigeon

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noun
  1. Trapshooting, Skeet. a disk of baked clay or other material hurled into the air from a trap as a target.
  2. Slang. a person in a situation likely to be taken advantage of by others.
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Origin of clay pigeon

An Americanism dating back to 1885–90
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for clay pigeon

Historical Examples

  • Next morning the clay-pigeon match came off, as usual, on the grounds of the Springfield Gun Club.

    Harvard Stories

    Waldron Kintzing Post

  • The annexed engravings show pictures of clay-pigeon shooting and of the firing of a ten-inch disappearing gun at Sandy Hook.


British Dictionary definitions for clay pigeon

clay pigeon

noun
  1. a disc of baked clay hurled into the air from a machine as a target to be shot at
  2. US slang a person in a defenceless position; sitting duck
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Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Idioms and Phrases with clay pigeon

clay pigeon

A person easily duped or taken advantage of, as in You're a clay pigeon for all of those telephone fund-raisers. The term alludes to the clay pigeon of trapshooting, which replaced the use of live birds in this sport in the 1860s. Its transfer to figurative use in the first half of the 1900s probably is explained by the much older slang use of pigeon for “dupe.” Also see fall guy.

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The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.