dead duck


noun

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

Nearby words

  1. dead center,
  2. dead centre,
  3. dead data,
  4. dead drop,
  5. dead drunk,
  6. dead end,
  7. dead fingers,
  8. dead firing,
  9. dead freight,
  10. dead from the neck up

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. 2019

Examples from the Web for dead duck

  • 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

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.