lame duck

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.
a president who is completing a term of office and chooses not to run or is ineligible to run for reelection.
a person finishing a term of employment after a replacement has been chosen.
anything soon to be supplanted by another that is more efficient, economical, etc.
a person or thing that is disabled, helpless, ineffective, or inefficient.
a person who has lost a great deal of money in speculations on the stock market.


lame-duck, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
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
4.  (US)
 a.  an elected official or body of officials remaining in office in the interval between the election and inauguration of a successor
 b.  (as modifier): a lame-duck president
5.  (US) (modifier) designating a term of office after which the officeholder will not run for re-election

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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Word Origin & History

lame duck
mid-18c., "any disabled person or thing;" especially Stock Exchange slang for "defaulter."
"A lame duck is a man who cannot pay his differences, and is said to waddle off." [Thomas Love Peacock, "Gryll Grange," 1861]
Sometimes also in naval use for "an old, slow ship." Modern sense of "public official serving out term after an election" is recorded by 1878 in Amer.Eng., from an anecdote published in that year of President Lincoln, who is alleged to have said, "[A] senator or representative out of business is a sort of lame duck. He has to be provided for."
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary

lame duck definition

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

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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