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dead duck

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noun
  1. a person or thing that is beyond help, redemption, or hope: One more missed opportunity and this whole enterprise is a dead duck.

Origin of dead duck

An Americanism dating back to 1820–30; orig., in political slang, a person who has lost influence or power and is therefore useless; perhaps from the proverb “never waste powder on a dead duck”
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for dead duck

Historical Examples

  • Then, when the second one showed up and dove in, he'd gone into a dead-duck spin.

    The Best Made Plans

    Everett B. Cole


British Dictionary definitions for dead duck

dead duck

noun
  1. slang a person or thing doomed to death, failure, etc, esp because of a mistake or misjudgment
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 dead duck

dead duck

1

A person doomed to failure or death; a hopeless case. For example, If they can't find a heart to transplant soon, he's a dead duck. [1940s]

2

A useless, worthless, or outmoded person or thing. For example, They didn't interview the outgoing senator; to the press he's a dead duck. Some speculate that this slangy term comes from an old saying, “Never waste powder on a dead duck,” first recorded in 1829.

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

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