View synonyms for lame duck

lame duck

[ leym duhk ]


  1. an elected official or group of officials, as a legislator, continuing in office during the period between an election defeat and a successor's assumption of office.
  2. a president who is completing a term of office and chooses not to run or is ineligible to run for reelection.
  3. a person finishing a term of employment after a replacement has been chosen.
  4. anything soon to be supplanted by another that is more efficient, economical, etc.
  5. a person or thing that is helpless, ineffective, or inefficient.
  6. a person who has lost a great deal of money in speculations on the stock market.

lame duck


  1. a person or thing that is disabled or ineffectual
  2. stock exchange a speculator who cannot discharge his liabilities
  3. a company with a large workforce and high prestige that is unable to meet foreign competition without government support
    1. an elected official or body of officials remaining in office in the interval between the election and inauguration of a successor
    2. ( as modifier )

      a lame-duck president

  4. modifier designating a term of office after which the officeholder will not run for re-election

lame duck

  1. A public official or administration serving out a term in office after having been defeated for reelection or when not seeking reelection.

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Other Words From

  • lame-duck adjective

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Word History and Origins

Origin of lame duck1

First recorded in 1755–65

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Idioms and Phrases

An elected officeholder whose term of office has not yet expired but who has failed to be re-elected and therefore cannot garner much political support for initiatives. For example, You can't expect a lame duck President to get much accomplished; he's only got a month left in office . This expression originated in the 1700s and then meant a stockbroker who did not meet his debts. It was transferred to officeholders in the 1860s. The Lame Duck Amendment , 20th to the U.S. Constitution, calls for Congress and each new President to take office in January instead of March (as before), thereby eliminating the lame-duck session of Congress.

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Example Sentences

Democrats lawmakers also said Toomey is using the Fed as a political instrument in the final days of the lame duck session.

His execution is also the first to be carried out by a lame duck president in 130 years.

One of the most persistent myths in American politics is the media-fueled concept of the lame duck.

Almost every two-term president gets a pasting in the midterms, but Obama now faces lame-duck issues on an historic scale.

In the short term, any hopes for an active lame-duck session will rest on the results of the election, King said.

He's a lame duck who looks very vulnerable and won't even be able to exact much retribution if he manages to win.

The president has a narrow window to turn his presidency around before people conclude he is a lame duck and no longer relevant.

By the way they passed a sward of green, on which sundry little boys were engaged upon the lapidation of a lame duck.

They have been through the furnace of affliction—even that lame duck.

The lame duck had been disturbed by Shin Shira's passing, and was slowly waddling towards the water.

She let Miles feel himself a man as other men, not a mere "lame duck" to whom indulgence must needs be granted.

By the way they passed a sward of green, on which sundry little boys were engaged upon the lapidation, or stoning, of a lame duck.


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Definitions and idiom definitions from Unabridged, based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

Idioms from The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.




lamedlame-duck session