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clay pigeon

A person who is easily exploited, deceived, or taken advantage of, especially due to being in a position of vulnerability. Likened to the clay pigeons (small clay discs) used as targets in trapshooting. Primarily heard in US, South Africa. He was used as a clay pigeon by the mafia, who laundered money through his accounts.
See also: clay, pigeon

be (one's) pigeon

To be one's area of expertise or responsibility. Primarily heard in UK, Australia. I can't approve expense reports, but Betty can—that's her pigeon.
See also: pigeon

stool pigeon

An informant, especially a criminal working as a spy for law enforcement officers. Although the criminal agreed to help the police in order to avoid prison time, he was afraid the other gang members would kill him if they discovered he was a stool pigeon.
See also: pigeon, stool

put/set the cat among the pigeons

  (British & Australian)
to do or say something that causes trouble and makes a lot of people angry or worried Tell them all they've got to work on Saturday. That should set the cat among the pigeons.
See also: among, cat, pigeon, put

be somebody's pigeon

  (British & Australian old-fashioned)
if something is someone's pigeon, they are responsible for it Finance isn't my pigeon. Ask Brian about that.
See also: pigeon

a stool pigeon

a person, especially a criminal, who secretly gives information to the police in order to help them catch other criminals Once they discovered he was a stool pigeon, it was only a matter of time before they had him killed.
See also: pigeon, stool

clay pigeon

A person easily duped or taken advantage of, as in You're a clay pigeon for all of those telephone fund-raisers. The term alludes to the clay pigeon of trapshooting, which replaced the use of live birds in this sport in the 1860s. Its transfer to figurative use in the first half of the 1900s probably is explained by the much older slang use of pigeon for "dupe." Also see fall guy.
See also: clay, 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]
See also: pigeon, stool

clay pigeon

n. a gullible person; a pigeon. (Underworld.) We need a clay pigeon to divert attention from the snatch.
See also: clay, pigeon


1. n. a dupe; a sucker; someone singled out to be cheated. (see also patsy.) There’s our pigeon now. Don’t let him see us sizing him up.
2. n. a good-looking girl or woman. Who was the dreamy little pigeon I saw you with last night?
3. Go to stool (pigeon).


mod. alcohol intoxicated. Who is that pigeon-eyed guy over there who is having such a hard time standing up?

stool (pigeon)

and stoolie (ˈstul ˈpɪdʒən and ˈstuli)
n. an informer. (Originally underworld.) Some stool pigeon spilled the works to the boys in blue. I’m no stoolie!
See also: pigeon, stool
References in classic literature ?
Horses were loaded with the dead; and, after this first burst of sporting, the shooting of pigeons became a business, with a few idlers, for the remainder of the season, Richard, however, boasted for many a year of his shot with the
cricket;” and Benjamin gravely asserted that he thought they had killed nearly as many pigeons on that day as there were Frenchmen destroyed on the memorable occasion of Rodney’s victory.
She conceived an affection for the pigeons which had thrown themselves on her hospitality; and when Boxtel's servant reclaimed them with culinary intentions, having eaten the first fifteen already, and now wishing to eat the other fifteen, she offered to buy them from him for a consideration of six stivers per head.
This being just double their value, the man was very glad to close the bargain, and the nurse found herself in undisputed possession of the pigeons of her master's envious neighbour.
In the course of their wanderings, these pigeons with others visited the Hague, Loewestein, and Rotterdam, seeking variety, doubtless, in the flavour of their wheat or hempseed.
Chance, or rather God, for we can see the hand of God in everything, had willed that Cornelius van Baerle should happen to hit upon one of these very pigeons.
It was better than he dreamed, and, before he knew it, he was hard upon the pigeon.
It was difficult, from underneath to see the pigeon.
A carrier pigeon on a passage can achieve a high rate of speed, and Winn reefed again.
The pigeon drove straight on for the Alameda County shore, and it was near this shore that Winn had another experience.
At an altitude of five hundred feet, the pigeon drove on over the town of Berkeley and lifted its flight to the Contra Costa hills.
The pigeon was now flying low, and where a grove of eucalyptus presented a solid front to the wind, the bird was suddenly sent fluttering wildly upward for a distance of a hundred feet.
As he finished them, he turned to the Pigeon and said:
You must remember, my boy," answered the Pigeon, "that hunger is the best sauce
Pinocchio jumped off the Pigeon's back, and the Pigeon, not wanting any thanks for a kind deed, flew away swiftly and disappeared.