- any of numerous wild or domesticated web-footed swimming birds of the family Anatidae, especially of the genus Anas and allied genera, characterized by abroad, flat bill, short legs, and depressed body.
- the female of this bird, as distinguished from the male.Compare drake1.
- the flesh of this bird, eaten as food.
- Informal. person; individual: He's the queer old duck with the knee-length gaiters and walrus mustache.
- a playing marble, especially one that is not used as a shooter.
- ducks, (used with a singular verb) British Slang. ducky2.
- Cricket Slang.
- failure of a batsman to score: to be out for a duck.
- a player's score of zero: to be bowled for a duck.Compare goose egg.
- water off a duck's back, something that has little or no effect: Our criticisms of his talk rolled off him like water off a duck's back.
Origin of duck1
- to stoop or bend suddenly; bob.
- to avoid or evade a blow, unpleasant task, etc.; dodge.
- to plunge the whole body or the head momentarily under water.
- Cards Informal. to play a card lower than the card led.
- to lower suddenly: Duck your head going through that low doorway.
- to avoid or evade (a blow, unpleasant task, etc.); dodge: to duck a hard right; to duck an embarrassing question.
- to plunge or dip in water momentarily.
- Cards Informal. to play a card lower than (the card led).
- an act or instance of ducking.
Origin of duck2
- a heavy, plain-weave cotton fabric for tents, clothing, bags, etc., in any of various weights and widths.
- ducks, (used with a plural verb) slacks or trousers made of this material.
Origin of duck3
Origin of duck4
Related Wordsdodge, crouch, dive, sidestep, evade, bow, elude, bend, escape, shun, lower, plunge, fence, shy, lurch, parry, stoop, submerge, double, shirk
Examples from the Web for ducks
No, she really is; she dives away from cars, outruns planes, ducks away from falling buses.‘Left Behind’ Review: Nicolas Cage’s Bible Movie Is God-Awful
Matthew Paul Turner
October 3, 2014
Private parts, be they of ducks, damselflies or dung beetles, turn out to have evolved novel forms at breakneck speeds.Oh, if These Penises and Vaginas Could Talk: Genitalia as Tools, Toys, and Weapons
May 1, 2014
Surely the Goldwater debacle had demonstrated a severe shortage of ducks in the anti-desegregation ranks?David's Bookclub: Strom Thurmond's America
April 16, 2013
So it turns out that Todd Akin was right, but only about ducks, not actual human women.Yes, We Should Study Duck Penises
March 25, 2013
As happens with arguments that start in bars, the men hauled their ducks to a farm pond and raced.My Duck is Faster than Yours
January 27, 2013
Fine pools for the first six miles, with numbers of ducks in them.
Shot six ducks; great numbers were in the river, also white cockatoos.
No other noise could disturb us but the cackling of hens and the quacking of ducks.The Roof of France
A pot pie may be made of ducks, rabbits, squirrels, or venison.Directions for Cookery, in its Various Branches
She fussed around like any other old hen who had in charge a brood of ducks.In a Steamer Chair and Other Stories
- clothing made of duck, esp white trousers for sports
- any of various small aquatic birds of the family Anatidae, typically having short legs, webbed feet, and a broad blunt bill: order Anseriformes
- the flesh of this bird, used as food
- the female of such a bird, as opposed to the male (drake)
- any other bird of the family Anatidae, including geese, and swans
- Also: ducks British informal dear or darling: used as a term of endearment or of general addressSee also ducky
- informal a person, esp one regarded as odd or endearing
- cricket a score of nothing by a batsman
- like water off a duck's back informal without effect
- take to something like a duck to water informal to become adept at or attracted to something very quickly
- to move (the head or body) quickly downwards or away, esp so as to escape observation or evade a blow
- to submerge or plunge suddenly and often briefly under water
- (when intr, often foll by out) informal to dodge or escape (a person, duty, etc)
- (intr) bridge to play a low card when possessing a higher one rather than try to win a trick
- the act or an instance of ducking
- a heavy cotton fabric of plain weave, used for clothing, tents, etcSee also ducks
- an amphibious vehicle used in World War II
Word Origin and History for ducks
waterfowl, Old English duce (found only in genitive ducan) "a duck," literally "a ducker," presumed to be from Old English *ducan "to duck, dive" (see duck (v.)). Replaced Old English ened as the name for the bird, this being from PIE *aneti-, the root of the "duck" noun in most Indo-European languages.
In the domestic state the females greatly exceed in number, hence duck serves at once as the name of the female and of the race, drake being a specific term of sex. [OED]
As a term of endearment, attested from 1580s. duck-walk is 1930s; duck soup "anything easily done" is by 1899. Duck's ass haircut is from 1951. Ducks-and-drakes, skipping flat stones on water, is from 1580s; the figurative sense of "throwing something away recklessly" is c.1600.
"strong, untwilled linen (later cotton) fabric," used for sails and sailors' clothing, 1630s, from Dutch doeck "linen cloth" (Middle Dutch doec), related to German Tuch "piece of cloth," Danish dug, Old Frisian dok, Old High German tuoh, all of unknown origin.
"to plunge into" (transitive), c.1300; to suddenly go under water (intransitive), mid-14c., from presumed Old English *ducan "to duck," found only in derivative duce (n.) "duck" (but there are cognate words in other Germanic languages, e.g. Old High German tuhhan "to dip," German tauchen "to dive," Old Frisian duka, Middle Dutch duken "to dip, dive," Dutch duiken), from Proto-Germanic *dukjan.
Sense of "bend, stoop quickly" is first recorded in English 1520s. Related: Ducked; ducking. The noun is attested from 1550s in the sense of "quick stoop;" meaning "a plunge, dip" is from 1843.
Idioms and Phrases with ducks
In addition to the idioms beginning with duck
- duck out
- duck soup
- dead duck
- get one's ducks in a row
- lame duck
- like water off a duck's back
- sitting duck
- take to (like a duck to water)
- ugly duckling