follow Dictionary.com

What's the "een" in Halloween?

stool pigeon

noun
1.
a pigeon used as a decoy.
2.
Also called stoolie
[stoo-lee] /ˈstu li/ (Show IPA),
stooly. Slang. a person employed or acting as a decoy or informer, especially for the police.
Origin
1820-1830
1820-30, Americanism
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
Cite This Source
British Dictionary definitions for stool-pigeon

stool pigeon

noun
1.
a living or dummy pigeon used to decoy others
2.
an informer for the police; nark
3.
(US, slang) a person acting as a decoy
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
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for stool-pigeon

stool pigeon

n.

"police informer," 1868, American English; earlier "one who betrays the unwary (or is used to betray them)," 1821, originally a decoy bird (1812); said to be from decoys being fastened to stools to lure other pigeons. But perhaps related to stall "decoy bird" (c.1500), especially "a pigeon used to entice a hawk into the net" (see stall (n.2)). Also cf. pigeon.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
stool-pigeon in Culture

stool pigeon definition


An informer, especially for the police: “Lefty figured out that Mugsy was the stool pigeon when he saw him talking to the warden.”

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
Cite This Source
Slang definitions & phrases for stool-pigeon

stool pigeon

noun phrase

A police informer; snitch, squealer: In New York he is also called a stool-pigeon

[1930+ Underworld; fr earlier sense ''decoy,'' fr the early 1800s practice of fastening pigeons and other birds to stools or stands as decoys; this term was applied to the decoy or ''hustler'' for a faro bank]


The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
Cite This Source
Idioms and Phrases with stool-pigeon

stool pigeon

A decoy or informer, especially a police spy. For example, Watch out for Doug; I'm sure he's a stool pigeon for the supervisor. This term alludes to a bird tied to a stool or similar perch in order to attract other birds, which will then be shot. However, one writer believes that stool is a variant for stale or stall, both nouns used for a decoy bird before 1500 or so. [ c. 1820 ]
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Word Value for stool

5
6
Scrabble Words With Friends

Quotes with stool-pigeon

Nearby words for stool-pigeon