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dead duck

a person or thing that is beyond help, redemption, or hope:
One more missed opportunity and this whole enterprise is a dead duck.
Origin of dead duck
1820-30, Americanism; 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” Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for dead duck
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Yet here he was locked up in their tin-can of a jail, as good as a dead duck.

  • If a Heinkel or an Me 110 showed up, the old girl would be a dead duck.

    A Yankee Flier in Italy Rutherford G. Montgomery
  • I glided forward, and came near shooting the Quartermaster, who sat in a bunch of sedge-grass, with a dead duck by his side.

    Crooked Trails Frederic Remington
  • You'd sure be a dead duck long before we crossed the border, my boy!

  • I have occasionally found a dead duck beneath the ice or floating in the water of a salt-hole.

    Wild Life Near Home Dallas Lore Sharp
  • The little man got a long stick, and, reaching it out, drew the dead duck to the bank.

    Mother Goose in Prose L. Frank Baum
  • We wasted an hour and a quarter over that dead duck down under, and now I'm expected to go rubbin' my back all round the Pole.

    With The Night Mail Rudyard Kipling
  • We wasted half an hour fussing over that dead duck down under, and now I'm expected to go rubbin' my back all round the Pole.

    Actions and Reactions Rudyard Kipling
British Dictionary definitions for dead duck

dead duck

(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
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Slang definitions & phrases for dead duck

dead duck

noun phrase

A person or thing that is ruined; a GONER, gone goose: Just one more little push and she was a dead duck/ Unless somebody would start this mob to the sugar bowl, I was a dead pigeon (1844+)

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with dead duck

dead duck

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 ]
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 Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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