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  1. a device, person, or enterprise that proves to be a failure.
  2. a shell or missile that fails to explode after being fired.

Origin of dud

1815–25; special use of dud, singular of duds


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1. fiasco, debacle, fizzle, miscarriage.


plural noun Informal.
  1. clothes, especially a suit of clothes.
  2. belongings in general.

Origin of duds

1275–1325; Middle English dudde; perhaps akin to Low German dudel coarse sackcloth
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for dud

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • For a time it seemed as though Brent's bombshell had been a dud.

    Ten From Infinity

    Paul W. Fairman

  • Let's get busy—we're altogether too close to that dud there to suit me.

    The Skylark of Space

    Edward Elmer Smith and Lee Hawkins Garby

  • But to Dud this thrilling adventure left no pleasant memories.


    Mary T. Waggaman

  • The motor boat Jim and Dud had hired for the season was stove in upon the rocks.


    Mary T. Waggaman

  • It was Dud who had been swept over into those foaming, seething depths.


    Mary T. Waggaman

British Dictionary definitions for dud


  1. a person or thing that proves ineffectual or a failure
  2. a shell, etc, that fails to explode
  3. (plural) old-fashioned clothes or other personal belongings
  1. failing in its purpose or functiona dud cheque

Word Origin

C15 (in the sense: an article of clothing, a thing, used disparagingly): of unknown origin
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

Word Origin and History for dud


c.1825, "person in ragged clothing," from duds (q.v.). Sense extended by 1897 to "counterfeit thing," and 1908 to "useless, inefficient person or thing." This led naturally in World War I to "shell which fails to explode," and thence to "expensive failure."



c.1300, dudde "cloak, mantle," later in plural, "ragged clothing" (1560s), of uncertain origin.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper