Definition of dummy in US English:

dummy

noun

  • 1A model or replica of a human being.

    ‘a waxwork dummy’
    • ‘One model included a dummy for history of lung cancer.’
    • ‘The estimation of the probit and logit models including industry dummies was conducted in three steps.’
    • ‘This is an impressive collection though I should caution you the dummy gets a little creepy after multiple viewings…’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘My copy of you was very near perfect but lets face a dummy is a dummy.’
    • ‘The Kiltimagh native joined legends of the entertainment industry with a life-size waxwork dummy of the music manager.’
    • ‘To give the feeling that someone is watching and guarding over your spooky home make a dummy or scarecrow.’
    • ‘The screen beauty claims many of her colleagues now have the expressionless faces of waxwork dummies.’
    • ‘Among the dummies he builds are authorized, exact replicas of his two friends.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘I kind of liked the idea of using the artist dummies to represent the people instead of actual peoples.’
    1. 1.1 A figure used for displaying or fitting clothes.
      ‘a tailor's dummy’
      • ‘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?’
      • ‘Since I was too shy to take pictures of the salesgirls, I took pictures of the dummies instead.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Also present were dressmaker dummies draped in costumes worn during the performances.’
      • ‘The collision wrecked the window display - including a dummy dressed as Elvis - and caused thousands of pounds of damage.’
      • ‘More macabre was the tailor's dummy strung up from a noose dangling off scaffolding on a building being demolished on Micklegate.’
      • ‘Along with the period costumes, and superhero outfits that he stocks there, the dresses are on display on dummies.’
      • ‘In the corner to the right of the window, through which the moon pales, is a tailor's dummy in hessian.’
      • ‘It's red lacy sleeves flowed eloquently down the dress maker's dummy's sides.’
      • ‘And when you say towing mannequins, is that mannequin in the sense of, say a store dummy, basically a pretend human being?’
      • ‘On the other side, was a set of three mannequin dummies, all dressed up in spooky attire.’
      • ‘She, meanwhile, had her stand with her arms out like a dressmaker's dummy, cutting her shirt down the middle of her back.’
      • ‘On the roof of one of them a realistic ‘corpse’ - a tailor's dummy - was hidden.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘For many years, in all weathers, a Swanndri-wearing tailor's dummy stood proudly outside his shop to show durability.’
      • ‘In the movie, he's a dark-haired American modelled on, of all things, a shop dummy.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘On four large glass sheets, she has painted in black the silhouettes of a tailor's dummy, a piano, a desk and a garden.’
      • ‘Would he lend The Three Graces out as tailor's dummies?’
      mannequin, manikin, lifelike model, figure, lay figure
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2 A ventriloquist's doll.
      • ‘Avant-garde theatre all too often not only trashes classical scripts, but also reduces the actors to ventriloquist's dummies for some directorial message.’
      • ‘I had a ventriloquist's dummy and used to do magic shows for the family.’
      • ‘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!’
      • ‘Then he blinks, once, a bit slowly, like a ventriloquist dummy.’
      • ‘I repeat, those who want to be ventriloquist's dummies for such a ‘hidden agenda’ are being far too modest.’
      • ‘I just checked out your author poster, and it scares me (the way clowns & ventriloquist dummies do).’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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…’
      • ‘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 worry there is more evil in clowns than in any terrorist organization, and under no circumstances will I tolerate dolls, puppets, or ventriloquist dummies.’
      • ‘A dialogue: we are not ventriloquists' dummies who cannot speak for ourselves.’
      • ‘A talking monkey is alright for children as a ventriloquist's dummy, but how about a doll which speaks only about AIDS and HIV.’
      • ‘Punk-rockers, ventriloquists' dummies, clowns, and show-business celebrities have taken the place of the preacher - and they are degrading the gospel.’
      • ‘Of course I should have probably looked through the spy hole because staring me in the face was a ventriloquist's dummy.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The most sinister of these is a ventriloquist dummy Joey found in an old abandoned house.’
      • ‘Like two ventriloquists' dummies or two sides of the same coin, both master and slave are locked in association.’
      • ‘Ventriloquists' dummies are always slightly sinister, giving one the sense that they might really have a life of their own.’
      • ‘In reality, ‘Johny’ was a ventriloquist's dummy, but few seemed to mind about that.’
      • ‘You know the old ventriloquist routine where the dummy doesn't want to go into the suitcase?’
  • 2Something designed to resemble and serve as a substitute for the real or usual thing; a counterfeit or sham.

    ‘tests using stuffed owls and wooden dummies’
    as modifier ‘a dummy torpedo’
    ‘dummy invoices and a dummy corporation, designed to underprice products’
    • ‘One plausible scenario, he said, was that he had indeed threatened the cops with a dummy gun.’
    • ‘‘We use their counter-top display that has one of their lights on a dummy gun,’ he said.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘A dummy camera was set up earlier this year to prevent cars using the bus gate.’
    • ‘Far too often the cats are clearly not real cats, but cat dummies and computer-generated cats.’
    • ‘A dummy bolt is in place in the receiver so headspace is set at the same time.’
    • ‘Of course, NATO knows that we have these dummies, but cannot tell a dummy from a real rocket.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Lectures on tactics and arms were held, and there was even drilling with dummy wooden guns.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘An American fighter dropped a dummy bomb on East Yorkshire by mistake, the US Air Force has confirmed.’
    • ‘Even when you ask them where a certain book is located, the computer they're using is just a dummy computer.’
    • ‘By fitting the dummy front to the machine the details of cards used could be recorded, while the camera captured the PIN number.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    1. 2.1 A prototype or mock-up, especially of a book or the layout of a page.
      • ‘The book dummies, storyboards, jacket covers, and double page spreads were proudly displayed, still smelling strongly of glue and fixatives.’
      • ‘Included here are selections from his finished prints, work prints, contact sheets, notes, notebooks, handmade photographic books, book dummies, and correspondence.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘We stood our ground, revised the dummy a couple of times and appointed a printer.’
      • ‘He knew how to turn my dummy into a book.’
      • ‘I've been excited enough to spend several hours working up some page templates and a dummy contents page.’
      • ‘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 publication, which is also known to have been preparing tabloid dummies, is evidently not going to reveal its hand.’
      • ‘The dummy had turned out to be just that, a dummy, with the group consensus being that the magazine had been lobotomised.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He introduced her to the group publisher, who fronted her enough money to produce a dummy for a new magazine.’
      mock-up, imitation, likeness, lookalike, representation, substitute, sample, copy, replica, reproduction
      View synonyms
    2. 2.2 A blank round of ammunition.
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Alternatively, you can make a dummy round with no primer or powder and leave the bullet seated way out.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I know what they'll look like, facial shields, dummy bullets, and sedatives.’
      • ‘With a revolver, simply give the cylinder a spin so that you do not know whether to expect a live or a dummy round.’
      • ‘I've seen cases where live rounds got in with the dummies, and vice versa.’
      • ‘They consisted of launching full-scale missile dummies with a first stage propulsion system and a simplified command system.’
      • ‘Following the correct steps to adjust the three dies, we should have succeeded in making a dummy round.’
      • ‘Make a dummy round first to check chambering before you start loading a bunch of ammo.’
    3. 2.3Grammar 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.’
    4. 2.4British A rubber or plastic nipple for a baby to suck on; a pacifier.
  • 3North American informal A stupid person.

    • ‘A capable ruler, he is no dummy, though he sometimes waits too long before taking action.’
    • ‘Rick's no dummy, so of course he goes along with it.’
    • ‘When it comes to movie marketing, he is no dummy.’
    • ‘Now, mama didn't raise no dummy, so when Steve asked what prize I wanted, I of course choose the five piece.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The unfortunate fact is that any dummy can assemble a list of keywords and upload their smartpages in just a few minutes.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘It's fairly obvious of her interest in him and he's no dummy, so maybe he's ignoring her to protect himself?’
    • ‘There are, according to a reader with too much time on his hands, hundreds of books for dummies.’
    • ‘He's no dummy, taking a calculated gamble on his career.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘So like a dummy, I go through there and pull out this date book.’
    • ‘I don't let him pretend (as some cartoonists do) that he's just a dummy.’
    • ‘I was no dummy, but somehow these brilliant, male minds, forced my IQ to drop 50 points.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘I don't know the guy, but he's not a dummy, believe me.’
    • ‘He is no dummy and he pulled out well before the paint was dry on the new Olympic Stadium.’
    • ‘Nobody likes a know-it-all, but nobody likes a dummy either.’
    • ‘He was no dummy and you had to be slick when playing this kind of game around him.’
    idiot, fool, ass, halfwit, nincompoop, dunce, dolt, ignoramus, cretin, imbecile, dullard, moron, simpleton, clod
    View synonyms
  • 4Bridge
    The declarer's partner, whose cards are exposed on the table after the opening lead and played by the declarer.

    • ‘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.’
    • ‘In Cowboy and Cowgirl the dummy can discard and draw in the same way as the players.’
    1. 4.1 The exposed hand of the declarer's partner.
      • ‘Either way, the second dummy is then exposed and the play continues as in Double Dummy Bridge.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The hand opposite each player is their dummy, but they cannot look at it until after the bidding.’
    2. 4.2 An imaginary fourth player in whist.
      as modifier ‘dummy whist’
      • ‘This allows the dummy player to leave the table during the play of the hand.’
      • ‘He plays from the dummy just as if it were a fourth player sitting opposite the Declarer.’
      • ‘Use this scoring method for you and the dummy players west, north, and east players.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Playing with three players, the game uses a dummy hand for the fourth player.’

verb

[with object]US
  • Create a mock-up of (a book, document, etc.) page.

    ‘officials dummied up a set of photos’
    • ‘They knew they had a great story, dummying up the early editions to put their competition off the scent and then splashing the later editions under the headline ‘Inside Trader’, backed up by a spread across pages 4 and 5.’
    • ‘The amendments abolished or limited open sales at auction, made dummying more difficult, gave more generous terms for repayment, and subjected the whole process to close administrative surveillance.’
    • ‘I'll have our guy in dummy up some fresh shots of him with the actress.’
    • ‘He borrowed an old hearse, dummied up some paperwork, and went to LAX, where he conned the people working for the mortuary services into turning over the coffin.’
    • ‘The main one was that they were clearly fakes dummied up at a an outlet from somebody's laptop at 4 a.m.’

Phrasal Verbs

  • dummy up

    • Keep quiet; give no information.

      • ‘They come out after closing hours, ‘dummying up’ when the security guard passes by on his rounds.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The function of consciousness must be in part to dummy up and shape a coherence from all the competing, conflicting subsystems that processed experience.’
      • ‘And they dummy up the quote, the application documents, the earnings statements.’

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

/ˈdəmē//ˈdəmi/