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stool pigeon

a pigeon used as a decoy.
Also called stoolie
[stoo-lee] /ˈstu li/ (Show IPA),
stooly. Slang. a person employed or acting as a decoy or informer, especially for the police.
Origin of stool pigeon
An Americanism dating back to 1820-30 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for stoolie
Historical Examples
  • But remember, if he's a stoolie, you're the bird that's going to get it.

    Spring Street James H. Richardson
British Dictionary definitions for stoolie

stool pigeon

a living or dummy pigeon used to decoy others
an informer for the police; nark
(US, slang) a person acting as a decoy
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 stoolie

stool pigeon


"police informer," 1868, American English; earlier "one who betrays the unwary (or is used to betray them)," 1821, originally a decoy bird (1812); said to be from decoys being fastened to stools to lure other pigeons. But perhaps related to stall "decoy bird" (c.1500), especially "a pigeon used to entice a hawk into the net" (see stall (n.2)). Also cf. pigeon.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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stoolie in Culture

stool pigeon definition

An informer, especially for the police: “Lefty figured out that Mugsy was the stool pigeon when he saw him talking to the warden.”

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Slang definitions & phrases for stoolie

stool pigeon

noun phrase

A police informer; snitch, squealer: In New York he is also called a stool-pigeon

[1930+ Underworld; fr earlier sense ''decoy,'' fr the early 1800s practice of fastening pigeons and other birds to stools or stands as decoys; this term was applied to the decoy or ''hustler'' for a faro bank]

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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Idioms and Phrases with stoolie

stool pigeon

A decoy or informer, especially a police spy. For example, Watch out for Doug; I'm sure he's a stool pigeon for the supervisor. This term alludes to a bird tied to a stool or similar perch in order to attract other birds, which will then be shot. However, one writer believes that stool is a variant for stale or stall, both nouns used for a decoy bird before 1500 or so. [ c. 1820 ]
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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