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[noun dee-koi, dih-koi; verb dih-koi] /noun ˈdi kɔɪ, dɪˈkɔɪ; verb dɪˈkɔɪ/
a person who entices or lures another person or thing, as into danger, a trap, or the like.
anything used as a lure.
a trained bird or other animal used to entice game into a trap or within gunshot.
an artificial bird, as a painted wooden duck, used for the same purpose.
a pond into which wild fowl are lured for capture.
an object capable of reflecting radar waves, used as a spurious aircraft, missile, chaff, etc., for the deception of radar detectors.
verb (used with object)
to lure by or as if by a decoy:
They decoyed the ducks to an area right in front of the blind.
verb (used without object)
to become decoyed:
Ducks decoy more easily than most other waterfowl.
Origin of decoy
1610-20; variant of coy (now dial.) < Dutch (de) kooi (the) cage, Middle Dutch cōie < Latin cavea cage
Related forms
decoyer, noun
2. enticement, bait, inducement, allurement. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for decoy
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • They said when I could decoy wild-fowl, I might set a trap for the Redfurns.

    The Settlers at Home Harriet Martineau
  • And Lollie has been the decoy duck that has been in every hunt we've had.

    Jack O' Judgment Edgar Wallace
  • The impudence of the authorities, to decoy an unsuspecting workingman across the State line, and then arrest him as my accomplice!

    Prison Memoirs of an Anarchist Alexander Berkman
  • I asked, horrified that she was becoming the decoy of that circle of super-crooks.

    The Golden Face William Le Queux
  • Not one of the decoy pieces was found upon him, or any other coins, for that matter; he had no money.

    Try Again Oliver Optic
  • These peace proposals, which look so well on paper, are a decoy.

    The Devil's Paw E. Phillips Oppenheim
  • They had a decoy, one of the oddest of its kind the boys had ever seen.

  • Would Huldah persuade him that the message was only a decoy?

    Judith of the Cumberlands Alice MacGowan
  • For us we put up at the "Temple of Segeste," attracted rather by its name than by any promise or decoy it offers.

British Dictionary definitions for decoy


noun (ˈdiːkɔɪ; dɪˈkɔɪ)
a person or thing used to beguile or lead someone into danger; lure
(military) something designed to deceive an enemy or divert his attention
a bird or animal, or an image of one, used to lure game into a trap or within shooting range
an enclosed space or large trap, often with a wide funnelled entrance, into which game can be lured for capture
(Canadian) another word for deke (sense 1)
verb (dɪˈkɔɪ)
to lure or be lured by or as if by means of a decoy
(transitive) (Canadian) another word for deke (sense 2)
Derived Forms
decoyer, noun
Word Origin
C17: probably from Dutch de kooi, literally: the cage, from Latin caveacage
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
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Word Origin and History for decoy

1610s, perhaps from Dutch kooi "cage," used of a pond surrounded by nets, into which wildfowl were lured for capture, from West Germanic *kaiwa, from Latin cavea "cage." The first element is possibly the Dutch definite article de, mistaken in English as part of the word. But decoy, of unknown origin, was the name of a card game popular c.1550-1650, and this may have influenced the form of the word.


1650s, from decoy (n.). Related: Decoyed; decoying.


1650s, from decoy (n.). Related: Decoyed; decoying.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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