dead duck

noun
a person or thing that is beyond help, redemption, or hope: One more missed opportunity and this whole enterprise is a dead duck.

Origin:
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”

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World English Dictionary
dead duck
 
n
slang a person or thing doomed to death, failure, etc, esp because of a mistake or misjudgment

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Slang Dictionary

dead duck definition


  1. n.
    a person or thing doomed to failure or disaster. : This whole plan was a dead duck from the beginning.
Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions by Richard A. Spears.Fourth Edition.
Copyright 2007. Published by McGraw-Hill Education.
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases

dead duck

  1. 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]

  2. 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® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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Example sentences
It is easy to catch a dead duck or goose, and the eagles make quick work of them.
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