[noun dee-koi, dih-koi; verb dih-koi]
See more synonyms for decoy on
  1. a person who entices or lures another person or thing, as into danger, a trap, or the like.
  2. anything used as a lure.
  3. a trained bird or other animal used to entice game into a trap or within gunshot.
  4. an artificial bird, as a painted wooden duck, used for the same purpose.
  5. a pond into which wild fowl are lured for capture.
  6. 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)
  1. 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)
  1. 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 formsde·coy·er, noun

Synonyms for decoy

See more synonyms for on Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for decoy

Contemporary Examples of decoy

  • Lönnborg, who works as a lawyer in London, has on several occasions posed as Elin, acting as a decoy to throw off the paparazzi.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Elin's New Life in Sweden

    Katarina Andersson

    September 6, 2010

Historical Examples of decoy

  • About sundown he took in his decoy Hen, as Owls were abundant, and went back to his camp.

    Johnny Bear

    E. T. Seton

  • I want you, besides, to act as a decoy in a case I have already told you of.

  • And in this trap of Iblis was decoy enough for a poor mouse like me.

    The Book of Khalid

    Ameen Rihani

  • The comparison of the mind to a block of wax, or to a decoy of birds, is found wanting.

  • One of the Indians then stationed himself as a decoy, and howled like a wolf.

    King Philip

    John S. C. (John Stevens Cabot) Abbott

British Dictionary definitions for decoy


noun (ˈdiːkɔɪ, dɪˈkɔɪ)
  1. a person or thing used to beguile or lead someone into danger; lure
  2. military something designed to deceive an enemy or divert his attention
  3. a bird or animal, or an image of one, used to lure game into a trap or within shooting range
  4. an enclosed space or large trap, often with a wide funnelled entrance, into which game can be lured for capture
  5. Canadian another word for deke (def. 1)
verb (dɪˈkɔɪ)
  1. to lure or be lured by or as if by means of a decoy
  2. (tr) Canadian another word for deke (def. 2)
Derived Formsdecoyer, noun

Word Origin for decoy

C17: probably from Dutch de kooi, literally: the cage, from Latin cavea cage
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 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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper