a person or thing that encircles, rings, etc.
a quoit or horseshoe so thrown as to encircle the peg.
the throw itself.
Also ring·ers. Also called ring taw. Marbles. a game in which players place marbles in a cross marked in the center of a circle, the object being to knock as many marbles as possible outside the circle by using another marble shooter.
Australian. a highly skilled sheep shearer.

Origin of ringer

First recorded in 1815–25; ring1 + -er1




a person or thing that rings or makes a ringing noise: a ringer of bells; a bell that is a loud ringer.
  1. a racehorse, athlete, or the like entered in a competition under false representation as to identity or ability.
  2. a student paid by another to take an exam.
  3. any person or thing that is fraudulent; fake or impostor.
  4. a substitute or addition, as a professional musician hired to strengthen a school orchestra: We hired three ringers for the commencement concert.

Origin of ringer

late Middle English word dating back to 1375–1425; see origin at ring2, -er1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for ringer

Contemporary Examples of ringer

Historical Examples of ringer

  • His ringer pointed to the last five words under the bar of music.

    Mary Ware's Promised Land

    Annie Fellows Johnston

  • If the ringer was late the prentice boys reminded him pretty plainly.

  • He knew that he had only to hold up his ringer and say, “Watch, Moses!”

    Our Frank

    Amy Walton

  • Let them study the words “ringer” , “linger” , and “ginger” .

    Assimilative Memory

    Marcus Dwight Larrowe (AKA Prof. A. Loisette)

  • Mrs. Stanton, but you are so confounded clever you might run in a "ringer."

British Dictionary definitions for ringer



a person or thing that rings a bell
Also called: dead ringer slang a person or thing that is almost identical to another
slang a stolen vehicle the identity of which has been changed by the use of the licence plate, serial number, etc, of another, usually disused, vehicle
US a contestant, esp a horse, entered in a competition under false representations of identity, record, or ability
Australian and NZ the fastest shearer in a shed
Australian informal the fastest or best at anything
a quoit thrown so as to encircle a peg
such a throw
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 ringer

early 15c., "one who rings" (a bell), agent noun from ring (v.1). In quoits (and by extension, horseshoes) from 1863, from ring (v.2). Especially in be a dead ringer for "resemble closely," 1891, from ringer, a fast horse entered fraudulently in a race in place of a slow one (the verb to ring in this sense is attested from 1812), possibly from British ring in "substitute, exchange," via ring the changes, "substitute counterfeit money for good," a pun on ring the changes in the sense of play the regular series of variations in a peal of bells (1610s). Meaning "expert" is first recorded 1918, Australian slang, from earlier meaning "man who shears the most sheep per day" (1871).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper