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[ring-er] /ˈrɪŋ ər/
a person or thing that encircles, rings, etc.
a quoit or horseshoe so thrown as to encircle the peg.
the throw itself.
Also, ringers. Also called ring taw. Marbles. a game in which players place marbles in a cross marked in the center of a circle, the object being to knock as many marbles as possible outside the circle by using another marble shooter.
Australian. a highly skilled sheep shearer.
Origin of ringer1
First recorded in 1815-25; ring1 + -er1


[ring-er] /ˈrɪŋ ər/
a person or thing that rings or makes a ringing noise:
a ringer of bells; a bell that is a loud ringer.
  1. a racehorse, athlete, or the like entered in a competition under false representation as to identity or ability.
  2. a student paid by another to take an exam.
  3. any person or thing that is fraudulent; fake or impostor.
  4. a substitute or addition, as a professional musician hired to strengthen a school orchestra:
    We hired three ringers for the commencement concert.
late Middle English word dating back to 1375-1425; See origin at ring2, -er1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for ringer
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • His ringer pointed to the last five words under the bar of music.

    Mary Ware's Promised Land Annie Fellows Johnston
  • If the ringer was late the prentice boys reminded him pretty plainly.

    The History of London Walter Besant
  • He knew that he had only to hold up his ringer and say, “Watch, Moses!”

    Our Frank Amy Walton
  • Let them study the words “ringer” , “linger” , and “ginger” .

    Assimilative Memory Marcus Dwight Larrowe (AKA Prof. A. Loisette)
  • Mrs. Stanton, but you are so confounded clever you might run in a "ringer."

British Dictionary definitions for ringer


a person or thing that rings a bell
(slang) Also called dead ringer. a person or thing that is almost identical to another
(slang) a stolen vehicle the identity of which has been changed by the use of the licence plate, serial number, etc, of another, usually disused, vehicle
(US) a contestant, esp a horse, entered in a competition under false representations of identity, record, or ability
(Austral & NZ) the fastest shearer in a shed
(Austral, informal) the fastest or best at anything
a quoit thrown so as to encircle a peg
such a throw
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 ringer

early 15c., "one who rings" (a bell), agent noun from ring (v.1). In quoits (and by extension, horseshoes) from 1863, from ring (v.2). Especially in be a dead ringer for "resemble closely," 1891, from ringer, a fast horse entered fraudulently in a race in place of a slow one (the verb to ring in this sense is attested from 1812), possibly from British ring in "substitute, exchange," via ring the changes, "substitute counterfeit money for good," a pun on ring the changes in the sense of play the regular series of variations in a peal of bells (1610s). Meaning "expert" is first recorded 1918, Australian slang, from earlier meaning "man who shears the most sheep per day" (1871).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for ringer



  1. A person or animal substituted for another, esp a racehorse put in to run in place of an inferior beast: ''ringers,'' good horses masquerading as poor ones (1890+ Horse racing)
  2. A person who arranges the illegal substitution of a horse: the master horse ringer of them all (1890+ Horse racing)
  3. A person or thing that closely resembles another; dead ringer: With the mustache and glasses, Blackmer is a ringer for Teddy (1891+)

[fr the expression ring someone in, ''announce or herald someone'']

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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