Definition of dead duck in US English:

dead duck


  • A person or thing that is defunct or has no chance of success.

    ‘they knew their plans were a dead duck’
    • ‘The show sounded promising during auditions and rehearsals, but on screen, turned out to be a complete dead duck.’
    • ‘There is precious little time between a President's election to a second term, and the point at which he becomes a political dead duck.’
    • ‘However, in 1977, when a number of newspapers had questioned whether his team were dead ducks after a barren start to the season, they opted to confront criticism head-on.’
    • ‘I think if we have a repetition of what happened last year in Ireland the thing is a dead duck!’
    • ‘The age of traditional economic development based on attracting new investment in call centres and similar highly mobile activities is a dead duck.’
    • ‘That means his manager of government business in the House of Representatives is a dead duck in a week when he will need all the help he can get.’
    • ‘At 175 for eight the game was a dead duck, there for the taking.’
    • ‘The Tories may be dead ducks election-wise but they can still throw a good fundraiser, as they showed last Thursday night in Glasgow when they banked #40,000.’
    • ‘It would take, so we have been told, just one ‘no’ result in any country to render the EU constitution a dead duck.’
    • ‘The shadow chancellor told the government to recognise that a referendum on the euro is now a dead duck.’
    • ‘If they are going to charge £4.20 to go from Chandler's Ford to Southampton this service could be a dead duck.’
    • ‘Some have written off Talk 107 as a dead duck, arguing that a talk format cannot succeed in a transmission area of few more than a million adults.’
    • ‘I used to work at the fishing in Peterhead, but that's a dead duck now.’
    • ‘Last week proved that she is not yet a political dead duck.’
    • ‘Well, er, it seems that conspiracy's now a dead duck, too.’
    • ‘But I have to say, if the markets go, the town is definitely a dead duck.’
    • ‘Fans of Bush like to point out that the US congress would have never ratified the agreement; that it was, even under Clinton, a dead duck.’
    • ‘‘Many viewed him not just as a lame duck, but a dead duck,’ commented Kenneth Duberstein, who served as his chief of staff, in The New York Times.’
    • ‘It is clear that he will come under renewed pressure from within his own party to ensure the issue does not become a dead duck.’
    • ‘If the business community does not want a regional assembly, then perhaps Mr Prescott should declare the idea the dead duck it has been from the start.’
    fiasco, debacle, catastrophe, disaster, blunder, vain attempt, abortion, defeat
    View synonyms


From the old saying ‘never waste powder on a dead duck’.


dead duck

/ˈded ˌdək/