Definition of dummy in English:

dummy

noun

  • 1A model or replica of a human being.

    ‘a waxwork dummy’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘To give the feeling that someone is watching and guarding over your spooky home make a dummy or scarecrow.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘My copy of you was very near perfect but lets face a dummy is a dummy.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘She photographed both live scenes and artificial tableaux involving mannequins and wax dummies.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The Kiltimagh native joined legends of the entertainment industry with a life-size waxwork dummy of the music manager.’
    • ‘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’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘On the other side, was a set of three mannequin dummies, all dressed up in spooky attire.’
      • ‘Also present were dressmaker dummies draped in costumes worn during the performances.’
      • ‘In the corner to the right of the window, through which the moon pales, is a tailor's dummy in hessian.’
      • ‘Along with the period costumes, and superhero outfits that he stocks there, the dresses are on display on dummies.’
      • ‘More macabre was the tailor's dummy strung up from a noose dangling off scaffolding on a building being demolished on Micklegate.’
      • ‘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 collision wrecked the window display - including a dummy dressed as Elvis - and caused thousands of pounds of damage.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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?’
      • ‘Would he lend The Three Graces out as tailor's dummies?’
      • ‘For many years, in all weathers, a Swanndri-wearing tailor's dummy stood proudly outside his shop to show durability.’
      • ‘On four large glass sheets, she has painted in black the silhouettes of a tailor's dummy, a piano, a desk and a garden.’
      • ‘She, meanwhile, had her stand with her arms out like a dressmaker's dummy, cutting her shirt down the middle of her back.’
      • ‘And when you say towing mannequins, is that mannequin in the sense of, say a store dummy, basically a pretend human being?’
      • ‘On the roof of one of them a realistic ‘corpse’ - a tailor's dummy - was hidden.’
      • ‘Since I was too shy to take pictures of the salesgirls, I took pictures of the dummies instead.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘In the movie, he's a dark-haired American modelled on, of all things, a shop dummy.’
      mannequin, manikin, lifelike model, figure, lay figure
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2 A ventriloquist's doll.
      • ‘A dialogue: we are not ventriloquists' dummies who cannot speak for ourselves.’
      • ‘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 mean, the only thing worse then having a wax dummy, is having a wax dummy of a ventriloquist dummy that looks like a clown!’
      • ‘Of course I should have probably looked through the spy hole because staring me in the face was a ventriloquist's dummy.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘A talking monkey is alright for children as a ventriloquist's dummy, but how about a doll which speaks only about AIDS and HIV.’
      • ‘Like two ventriloquists' dummies or two sides of the same coin, both master and slave are locked in association.’
      • ‘Punk-rockers, ventriloquists' dummies, clowns, and show-business celebrities have taken the place of the preacher - and they are degrading the gospel.’
      • ‘I had a ventriloquist's dummy and used to do magic shows for the family.’
      • ‘The most sinister of these is a ventriloquist dummy Joey found in an old abandoned house.’
      • ‘I just checked out your author poster, and it scares me (the way clowns & ventriloquist dummies do).’
      • ‘I repeat, those who want to be ventriloquist's dummies for such a ‘hidden agenda’ are being far too modest.’
      • ‘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 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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Then he blinks, once, a bit slowly, like a ventriloquist dummy.’
      • ‘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…’
      • ‘You know the old ventriloquist routine where the dummy doesn't want to go into the suitcase?’
      • ‘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.’
    3. 1.3Bridge 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.’
      • ‘In Cowboy and Cowgirl the dummy can discard and draw in the same way as the players.’
      • ‘Immediately after this opening lead, the dummy's cards are exposed.’
    4. 1.4Bridge 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 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.’
      • ‘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.’
    5. 1.5 An imaginary fourth player in whist.
      [as modifier] ‘dummy whist’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Playing with three players, the game uses a dummy hand for the fourth player.’
  • 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’
    • ‘A dummy camera was set up earlier this year to prevent cars using the bus gate.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘‘We use their counter-top display that has one of their lights on a dummy gun,’ he said.’
    • ‘A dummy bolt is in place in the receiver so headspace is set at the same time.’
    • ‘Use dummy plugs to cover unused outlets - if these are not readily available, simply buy a new plug and insert into the outlet.’
    • ‘Lectures on tactics and arms were held, and there was even drilling with dummy wooden guns.’
    • ‘One plausible scenario, he said, was that he had indeed threatened the cops with a dummy gun.’
    • ‘For the next few minutes it took the place of a wooden dummy, receiving more than it's share of abuse.’
    • ‘Of course, NATO knows that we have these dummies, but cannot tell a dummy from a real rocket.’
    • ‘By fitting the dummy front to the machine the details of cards used could be recorded, while the camera captured the PIN number.’
    • ‘Parkinson's Disease sufferers experience the same benefit from an inactive dummy drug as they do from a real medicine, new research has shown.’
    • ‘Far too often the cats are clearly not real cats, but cat dummies and computer-generated cats.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    1. 2.1 A prototype or mock-up, especially of a book or the layout of a page.
      • ‘He knew how to turn my dummy into a book.’
      • ‘The publication, which is also known to have been preparing tabloid dummies, is evidently not going to reveal its hand.’
      • ‘Included here are selections from his finished prints, work prints, contact sheets, notes, notebooks, handmade photographic books, book dummies, and correspondence.’
      • ‘I've been excited enough to spend several hours working up some page templates and a dummy contents page.’
      • ‘The book dummies, storyboards, jacket covers, and double page spreads were proudly displayed, still smelling strongly of glue and fixatives.’
      • ‘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 dummy had turned out to be just that, a dummy, with the group consensus being that the magazine had been lobotomised.’
      • ‘We stood our ground, revised the dummy a couple of times and appointed a printer.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He introduced her to the group publisher, who fronted her enough money to produce a dummy for a new magazine.’
      • ‘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.’
      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.’
      • ‘Following the correct steps to adjust the three dies, we should have succeeded in making 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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘With a revolver, simply give the cylinder a spin so that you do not know whether to expect a live or a dummy round.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Alternatively, you can make a dummy round with no primer or powder and leave the bullet seated way out.’
      • ‘Make a dummy round first to check chambering before you start loading a bunch of ammo.’
      • ‘I know what they'll look like, facial shields, dummy bullets, and sedatives.’
      • ‘The work with officers started with maps and dummies and then proceeded to tactical field exercises.’
      • ‘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.’
    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.’
  • 3North American informal A stupid person.

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

verb

[WITH OBJECT]US
  • Create a prototype or mock-up of a book or page.

    ‘officials dummied up a set of photos’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘I'll have our guy in dummy up some fresh shots of him with the actress.’
    • ‘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.’

Phrasal Verbs

  • dummy up

    • Keep quiet; give no information.

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

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/