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1. A person or thing that is useless or hopeless. That new budget bill was a dead duck before it hit the Senate. That mechanic turned out to be a dead duck. He didn't even know how to change my oil.
2. Someone who is about to be in a great deal of trouble for something they have done. When Mom finds out you snuck out of the house to meet your boyfriend, you're going to be a dead duck!
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
Fig. someone or something that is certain to die or fail. If I fail that test, I'm a dead duck. When the outlaw drew his pistol, the sheriff knew he was a dead duck.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
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 © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
a dead duck
1. If someone or something is a dead duck, they are a failure. The government is a dead duck; and the Supreme National Council does not have the means to govern. The movie's probably a dead duck.
2. Someone who is a dead duck is going to be punished severely. Hit me on the head again, and you're a dead duck.
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012
a dead ˈduck(informal) a plan, an idea, etc. that has failed or is certain to fail and that is therefore not worth discussing: The new supermarket is going to be a dead duck; there’s no demand for one in this area.
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
n. a person or thing doomed to failure or disaster. This whole plan was a dead duck from the beginning.
McGraw-Hill's Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions Copyright © 2006 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.
dead duck, a
A has-been or a loser. The term dates from the second half of the nineteenth century and may have been derived from lame duck. At first it denoted a person whose political influence had declined. Later it simply came to mean someone who has no hope of winning, or who has already lost.
See also: dead
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer