Definition of dummy in English:

dummy

noun

  • 1A model or replica of a human being:

    ‘a waxwork dummy’
    • ‘My copy of you was very near perfect but lets face a dummy is a dummy.’
    • ‘The screen beauty says she is sick of her fellow actors looking artificial because they've been under the knife and claims many of her colleagues now have the expressionless faces of waxwork dummies.’
    • ‘She photographed both live scenes and artificial tableaux involving mannequins and wax dummies.’
    • ‘Walking up to the Opera, you see a waxwork of Berg in its windows clutching an open copy of the score, surrounded by dummies provocatively posed as Reeperbahn hookers.’
    • ‘An art project fell foul of the false arm of the law last week as Gardai ‘arrested’ a dummy which has been posed as a beggar around Sligo town centre.’
    • ‘One model included a dummy for history of lung cancer.’
    • ‘Among the dummies he builds are authorized, exact replicas of his two friends.’
    • ‘It contains a massive array of war relics, collected from all round the world down the years, including authentic uniforms modelled by specially-made dummies in authentic uniforms.’
    • ‘The Kiltimagh native joined legends of the entertainment industry with a life-size waxwork dummy of the music manager.’
    • ‘This is an impressive collection though I should caution you the dummy gets a little creepy after multiple viewings…’
    • ‘I kind of liked the idea of using the artist dummies to represent the people instead of actual peoples.’
    • ‘The estimation of the probit and logit models including industry dummies was conducted in three steps.’
    • ‘The screen beauty claims many of her colleagues now have the expressionless faces of waxwork dummies.’
    • ‘To give the feeling that someone is watching and guarding over your spooky home make a dummy or scarecrow.’
    1. 1.1 A figure used for displaying or fitting clothes:
      ‘a tailor's dummy’
      • ‘Also present were dressmaker dummies draped in costumes worn during the performances.’
      • ‘She, meanwhile, had her stand with her arms out like a dressmaker's dummy, cutting her shirt down the middle of her back.’
      • ‘On four large glass sheets, she has painted in black the silhouettes of a tailor's dummy, a piano, a desk and a garden.’
      • ‘In the movie, he's a dark-haired American modelled on, of all things, a shop dummy.’
      • ‘In the corner to the right of the window, through which the moon pales, is a tailor's dummy in hessian.’
      • ‘Join the club - how many middle-aged people are there out there, I wonder, who still find it a bit scary looking at the tailor's dummies in a clothes shop window?’
      • ‘On the roof of one of them a realistic ‘corpse’ - a tailor's dummy - was hidden.’
      • ‘Would he lend The Three Graces out as tailor's dummies?’
      • ‘Along with the period costumes, and superhero outfits that he stocks there, the dresses are on display on dummies.’
      • ‘On the other side, was a set of three mannequin dummies, all dressed up in spooky attire.’
      • ‘The collision wrecked the window display - including a dummy dressed as Elvis - and caused thousands of pounds of damage.’
      • ‘It is the shop window of the Scottish parliament and it will not do for it to be filled with people who make tailors dummies seem animated.’
      • ‘More macabre was the tailor's dummy strung up from a noose dangling off scaffolding on a building being demolished on Micklegate.’
      • ‘For many years, in all weathers, a Swanndri-wearing tailor's dummy stood proudly outside his shop to show durability.’
      • ‘Since I was too shy to take pictures of the salesgirls, I took pictures of the dummies instead.’
      • ‘And when you say towing mannequins, is that mannequin in the sense of, say a store dummy, basically a pretend human being?’
      • ‘The train driver said he had just left New Pudsey station in the dawn light when he saw what he thought was a tailor's dummy between the railway line and the embankment ahead of him.’
      • ‘It's red lacy sleeves flowed eloquently down the dress maker's dummy's sides.’
      • ‘As she is undressed and her wedding veil placed on the tailor's dummy, the camera pans up from her naked back to her body in the photograph.’
      • ‘The dressmaker's dummy and a blue wing chair that is used repeatedly are symbolic of the upper-middle-class venues of Mammy's travail.’
      mannequin, manikin, lifelike model, figure, lay figure
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2 A ventriloquist's doll.
      • ‘His need to lecture his readers sometimes forces his protagonist into the role of the ventriloquist's dummy - and too often we can see the master's lips moving.’
      • ‘A dialogue: we are not ventriloquists' dummies who cannot speak for ourselves.’
      • ‘You know the old ventriloquist routine where the dummy doesn't want to go into the suitcase?’
      • ‘In reality, ‘Johny’ was a ventriloquist's dummy, but few seemed to mind about that.’
      • ‘At the very least, if they end up dropping this, keep at least Job and Franklin, the ventriloquist dummy because if they just spun off on their own, I would be so happy.’
      • ‘I just checked out your author poster, and it scares me (the way clowns & ventriloquist dummies do).’
      • ‘I worry there is more evil in clowns than in any terrorist organization, and under no circumstances will I tolerate dolls, puppets, or ventriloquist dummies.’
      • ‘I had a ventriloquist's dummy and used to do magic shows for the family.’
      • ‘I repeat, those who want to be ventriloquist's dummies for such a ‘hidden agenda’ are being far too modest.’
      • ‘Punk-rockers, ventriloquists' dummies, clowns, and show-business celebrities have taken the place of the preacher - and they are degrading the gospel.’
      • ‘Then he blinks, once, a bit slowly, like a ventriloquist dummy.’
      • ‘Like two ventriloquists' dummies or two sides of the same coin, both master and slave are locked in association.’
      • ‘Just to say that if any of you feel like doing your party piece towards the end of tomorrow's dinner do feel free, and bring guitar, ventriloquist's dummy or whatever…’
      • ‘Of course I should have probably looked through the spy hole because staring me in the face was a ventriloquist's dummy.’
      • ‘The most sinister of these is a ventriloquist dummy Joey found in an old abandoned house.’
      • ‘I mean, the only thing worse then having a wax dummy, is having a wax dummy of a ventriloquist dummy that looks like a clown!’
      • ‘Ventriloquists' dummies are always slightly sinister, giving one the sense that they might really have a life of their own.’
      • ‘I realized that if this were a bad horror movie, it'd be a ventriloquist dummy in its little suitcase, urging me to go out and set fires.’
      • ‘Avant-garde theatre all too often not only trashes classical scripts, but also reduces the actors to ventriloquist's dummies for some directorial message.’
      • ‘A talking monkey is alright for children as a ventriloquist's dummy, but how about a doll which speaks only about AIDS and HIV.’
  • 2An object designed to resemble and serve as a substitute for the real or usual one:

    ‘tests using stuffed owls and wooden dummies’
    [as modifier] ‘a dummy torpedo’
    • ‘Of course, NATO knows that we have these dummies, but cannot tell a dummy from a real rocket.’
    • ‘You may think you know the location of the lockbox, and maybe you do or maybe that's a decoy or a dummy lock box.’
    • ‘One plausible scenario, he said, was that he had indeed threatened the cops with a dummy gun.’
    • ‘The Lake Erie's radar system tracked the dummy warhead and guided the interceptor to collide with it more than 100 miles above the ocean.’
    • ‘Lectures on tactics and arms were held, and there was even drilling with dummy wooden guns.’
    • ‘The Army team identified the device as a dummy bomb, used for target practice when the site was an airfield during the Second World War.’
    • ‘By fitting the dummy front to the machine the details of cards used could be recorded, while the camera captured the PIN number.’
    • ‘The American servicemen who dropped a dummy bomb on East Yorkshire have returned to flying after an investigation into the blunder, it was revealed yesterday.’
    • ‘If the jet had been flying over a more populated area, then even a dummy bomb could have caused a significant level of destruction and even death.’
    • ‘Even when you ask them where a certain book is located, the computer they're using is just a dummy computer.’
    • ‘Far too often the cats are clearly not real cats, but cat dummies and computer-generated cats.’
    • ‘‘We use their counter-top display that has one of their lights on a dummy gun,’ he said.’
    • ‘Parkinson's Disease sufferers experience the same benefit from an inactive dummy drug as they do from a real medicine, new research has shown.’
    • ‘For the next few minutes it took the place of a wooden dummy, receiving more than it's share of abuse.’
    • ‘This weekend a test will take place in which a dummy missile will be fired from a Californian base and be intercepted by a defence missile launched from the Marshall Islands in the Pacific.’
    • ‘Use dummy plugs to cover unused outlets - if these are not readily available, simply buy a new plug and insert into the outlet.’
    • ‘A dummy camera was set up earlier this year to prevent cars using the bus gate.’
    • ‘The pedal car, which has recently been exhibited at classic car shows, is in fully restored condition, complete with its dummy engine and working headlights.’
    • ‘An American fighter dropped a dummy bomb on East Yorkshire by mistake, the US Air Force has confirmed.’
    • ‘A dummy bolt is in place in the receiver so headspace is set at the same time.’
    1. 2.1British A rubber or plastic teat for a baby to suck on.
      • ‘However, it appeared that posterior cross bite was significantly more common in children who were bottle-fed, as well as those who sucked dummies or their thumbs.’
      • ‘Philip's mother, Carol, said that instead of a dummy he was given a sheepdog whistle as a baby, and he's never looked back.’
      • ‘Suffice to say that, when I pull out the sofa to sweep under it, I find a dummy (my children haven't used dummies for three years) and an old Singing Kettle ticket.’
      • ‘He may also choose to suck his thumb, or perhaps a dummy.’
      • ‘By kissing their babies or licking their babies' dummies, parents could inadvertently be increasing their risk of cot death.’
      • ‘Trading standards officers have seized a shipment of 4,000 baby dummies at Stansted Airport which were intended for the hard-core clubbing market but could prove dangerous to children and adults.’
      • ‘His artistic creation involves three plastic child dummies hanging from nooses in an old oak tree in Milan's busy May 24 square.’
      • ‘Officers also found that he had a stock of nappies, baby bottles, dummies and parenting magazines stored at his home.’
      • ‘Puppies and kittens are particularly likely to swallow unusual objects, including babies' dummies, balls and even razor blades.’
      • ‘Infants randomised to the dummy groups received a dummy on entry into the trial.’
      • ‘The family is still accepting donations of baby products such as talcum powder, soap, and dummies.’
      • ‘Now try to imagine him waving a dayglo wand and sucking a dummy.’
      • ‘A child who is able to argue with such infallible logic is perhaps a tad old to be toting a dummy in public.’
      • ‘She held their baby girl in her right arm while her left hand, with the baby's dummy looped over her index finger, rested on the stock of an AK - 47.’
      • ‘Family members visited and brought toys but she was confined to an isolation unit with her dummy to suck for comfort.’
      • ‘It outlines the fact that dummies can create problems for children's teeth as well as causing speech problems.’
      • ‘He was just over a minute behind the stage winner, who slipped a baby's dummy into his mouth as a tribute to his wife and daughter, but that mattered little.’
      • ‘If you can, avoid using a dummy and discourage thumb sucking.’
      • ‘The slightly horrified look on my face changed to one of relief when she added that recent research showed that there was less likelihood of cot death if the baby had a dummy.’
      • ‘Children shouted, babies spat their dummies and cried, and builders leaned out of white vans to express their admiration and to wish me well for the long journey ahead.’
      • ‘The hideous little wretch in the pram - probably gurgling and sucking a particularly unpleasant dummy - was me.’
    2. 2.2 A prototype or mock-up, especially of a book or the layout of a page.
      • ‘I've been excited enough to spend several hours working up some page templates and a dummy contents page.’
      • ‘He knew how to turn my dummy into a book.’
      • ‘He introduced her to the group publisher, who fronted her enough money to produce a dummy for a new magazine.’
      • ‘So over the next year, she pored over magazines, drafted an editorial plan and put together a dummy issue from published magazine pages and pictures that she liked.’
      • ‘Included here are selections from his finished prints, work prints, contact sheets, notes, notebooks, handmade photographic books, book dummies, and correspondence.’
      • ‘We stood our ground, revised the dummy a couple of times and appointed a printer.’
      • ‘You read through the reference and tutorial material to work out how things may best be done, set up a dummy page to try them out, and then you find the snag.’
      • ‘The dummy had turned out to be just that, a dummy, with the group consensus being that the magazine had been lobotomised.’
      • ‘The publication, which is also known to have been preparing tabloid dummies, is evidently not going to reveal its hand.’
      • ‘Although the dummy pages circulated before the launch looked bold and colourful, the first real front page had the distinct whiff of suburban newspaper.’
      • ‘The book dummies, storyboards, jacket covers, and double page spreads were proudly displayed, still smelling strongly of glue and fixatives.’
      mock-up, imitation, likeness, lookalike, representation, substitute, sample, copy, replica, reproduction
      View synonyms
    3. 2.3 A blank round of ammunition.
      • ‘I've seen cases where live rounds got in with the dummies, and vice versa.’
      • ‘This was done by making some dummy rounds with the bullet seated way out and then gradually increasing the depth until the gun would just barely close.’
      • ‘The work with officers started with maps and dummies and then proceeded to tactical field exercises.’
      • ‘Typically folks would prepare a dummy cartridge leaving the bullet seated to a shallow depth, smoke it with a candle, and then seat the dummy round in the chamber.’
      • ‘Before you make up a batch of reloads, make a dummy round first to ensure your die settings are correct and the round feeds and the bolt closes normally.’
      • ‘They consisted of launching full-scale missile dummies with a first stage propulsion system and a simplified command system.’
      • ‘I really don't like this method since I have a horror of one of the dummy rounds getting mixed up with my hunting ammunition.’
      • ‘I know what they'll look like, facial shields, dummy bullets, and sedatives.’
      • ‘Make a dummy round first to check chambering before you start loading a bunch of ammo.’
      • ‘With a revolver, simply give the cylinder a spin so that you do not know whether to expect a live or a dummy round.’
      • ‘Alternatively, you can make a dummy round with no primer or powder and leave the bullet seated way out.’
      • ‘Following the correct steps to adjust the three dies, we should have succeeded in making a dummy round.’
    4. 2.4Grammar [as modifier] Denoting a word that has no semantic content but is used to maintain grammatical structure:
      ‘a dummy subject as in ‘it is’ or ‘there are’’
      • ‘I think people don't use ‘it’ for exactly that reason Todd - it's so often an expletive or a dummy pronoun that it would get confusing.’
      • ‘This so-called ‘prop it’ is a dummy subject, serving merely to fill a structural need in English for a subject in a sentence.’
  • 3(chiefly in rugby and soccer) a feigned pass or kick intended to deceive an opponent.

    • ‘In Rugby, you can pull a dummy, kick the ball up and under, or a grubber kick, or a long sideline punt.’
    • ‘He'd mesmerised the home defence with a beautiful dummy before picking up a short pass and slotting the ball past the helpless Roy Carroll.’
    • ‘Connoisseurs of back flip passes, outrageous dummies and champagne rugby in general would have loved this hugely entertaining romp.’
    • ‘The ball was passed wide and a dummy by Chapman created the gap for him to scoot over for his opening try of the season.’
    • ‘The stand-off broke the line, threw a couple of outrageous dummies, including what looked like a fake pass to the touch judge (the only man outside him), before bundling over in the corner.’
  • 4North American informal A stupid person.

    • ‘To help dummies with printing, colour LCDs on the front of the new printers have animations that guide them around any problems that crop up.’
    • ‘A capable ruler, he is no dummy, though he sometimes waits too long before taking action.’
    • ‘But the devil with the horns was looked upon as a kind of fool's gold, taught to dummies too stupid to grasp the honest ideology of actual wrongdoing.’
    • ‘There are, according to a reader with too much time on his hands, hundreds of books for dummies.’
    • ‘I don't know the guy, but he's not a dummy, believe me.’
    • ‘He was no dummy and you had to be slick when playing this kind of game around him.’
    • ‘Nobody likes a know-it-all, but nobody likes a dummy either.’
    • ‘Rick's no dummy, so of course he goes along with it.’
    • ‘When it comes to movie marketing, he is no dummy.’
    • ‘The unfortunate fact is that any dummy can assemble a list of keywords and upload their smartpages in just a few minutes.’
    • ‘So like a dummy, I go through there and pull out this date book.’
    • ‘I don't care what anyone says, you cannot be a dummy if you have won the European Championship, even although he did it with top German players, but in Scotland there are no grey areas.’
    • ‘He is no dummy and he pulled out well before the paint was dry on the new Olympic Stadium.’
    • ‘Once it became easy to download, so that any dummy could do it and you're only paying a buck a song, it sort of took it away from the old peer to peer basis thing.’
    • ‘The other is that Americans understand the notion of financial smarts, but that doesn't seem to stop most of us from acting like financial dummies.’
    • ‘I was no dummy, but somehow these brilliant, male minds, forced my IQ to drop 50 points.’
    • ‘Now, mama didn't raise no dummy, so when Steve asked what prize I wanted, I of course choose the five piece.’
    • ‘I don't let him pretend (as some cartoonists do) that he's just a dummy.’
    • ‘It's fairly obvious of her interest in him and he's no dummy, so maybe he's ignoring her to protect himself?’
    • ‘He's no dummy, taking a calculated gamble on his career.’
    fool, ass, halfwit, nincompoop, blockhead, dunce, dolt, ignoramus, cretin, imbecile, dullard, moron, simpleton, clod
    View synonyms
  • 5Bridge
    The declarer's partner, whose cards are exposed on the table after the opening lead and played by the declarer.

    • ‘In Cowboy and Cowgirl the dummy can discard and draw in the same way as the players.’
    • ‘The player on the left of the dummy hand plays the dummy's cards.’
    • ‘Immediately after this opening lead, the dummy's cards are exposed.’
    1. 5.1 The exposed hand of the declarer's partner.
      • ‘Both dummies are then exposed on the table, opposite their owners, and play continues as in Bridge, each of the players playing cards from their own dummy at its turn.’
      • ‘Either way, the second dummy is then exposed and the play continues as in Double Dummy Bridge.’
      • ‘The hand opposite each player is their dummy, but they cannot look at it until after the bidding.’
      • ‘The Defender on the Declarer's left leads the card to the first trick, after which the cards in the dummy are exposed and sorted by suit.’
    2. 5.2 An imaginary fourth player in whist:
      [as modifier] ‘dummy whist’
      • ‘If the dummy hand wins a portion of the pot, the player that it beats must match the pot just as if they were beaten by a player at the table.’
      • ‘He plays from the dummy just as if it were a fourth player sitting opposite the Declarer.’
      • ‘Playing with three players, the game uses a dummy hand for the fourth player.’
      • ‘Use this scoring method for you and the dummy players west, north, and east players.’
      • ‘This allows the dummy player to leave the table during the play of the hand.’

verb

[NO OBJECT]
  • (chiefly in rugby and soccer) feign a pass or kick in order to deceive an opponent:

    ‘Blanco dummied past a static defence’
    • ‘When Taylor returned though his first action was to dummy, hand off and cut inside to the posts from 30 yards before adding the conversion and then a penalty.’
    • ‘From a position close to the York line he took play right and then went left to dummy his way over for an unconverted try.’
    • ‘As he ran with the ball, the Olympiakos defence backed off and backed off until he dummied, tried a shot himself and blasted it over the bar.’
    • ‘Time and again he won possession inside the mid-field area, shimmied, dummied and generally toyed with his opponents before threading delightful passes to his team mates.’
    • ‘But he dummied past the first defender, danced round another and cut straight through the middle to the line where he was brought down just short only for his momentum to carry him over.’

Phrases

  • sell someone a dummy

    • (chiefly in rugby and soccer) deceive an opponent by feigning a pass or kick.

      • ‘The Wallabies duly manufactured another excellent try when Larkham's cut-out pass found Roff, who sold Cohen a dummy and sent Rathbone in for his second.’
      • ‘The next thing he knew, Brazil's second goofy forward had dashed off, sold Ashley Cole a dummy, slipped a pass to Rivaldo that cut out both Rio and Sol, and helped put his team on top.’
      • ‘Al Shahrani is sold a dummy by Harte and the Irishman gets kicked on the ankle for his troubles.’
      • ‘And that precious save was rewarded when Paul Reid sold Camara a dummy, raced into the box and cut the ball back into the six-yard box for Hammond to gleefully hammer the ball into the top corner.’
      • ‘Captain Nick Ventress sold a perfect dummy to his opposite fly-half and created enough room to slip through under the posts for York's try before converting with a nonchalant drop kick.’
      • ‘He feints to shoot in the box and sells the entire Ukraine the dummy.’
      • ‘The stand-off sold Keith Watters a dummy and ghosted over.’
      • ‘What they should be doing is showing someone passing the ball for a try or selling a dummy.’
      • ‘Fans cheer and laugh as a skilled midfielder sells a dummy to a bewildered defender.’
      • ‘He jigged enough to sell David Heaney a dummy, and from 20 yards out, drove the ball into the top corner of the net.’

Phrasal Verbs

  • dummy up

    • Keep quiet; give no information.

      • ‘Of course, such synergistic bilge is commonplace, as is the tendency to dummy up on any topic that the parent company (or any of its advertisers) might want stifled.’
      • ‘And they dummy up the quote, the application documents, the earnings statements.’
      • ‘The function of consciousness must be in part to dummy up and shape a coherence from all the competing, conflicting subsystems that processed experience.’
      • ‘They come out after closing hours, ‘dummying up’ when the security guard passes by on his rounds.’

Origin

Late 16th century: from dumb + -y. The original sense was ‘a person who cannot speak’, then ‘an imaginary fourth player in whist’ (mid 18th century), whence ‘a substitute for the real thing’ and ‘a model of a human being’ (mid 19th century).

Pronunciation:

dummy

/ˈdʌmi/