Definition of dummy in 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.’
    • ‘The Kiltimagh native joined legends of the entertainment industry with a life-size waxwork dummy of the music manager.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘I kind of liked the idea of using the artist dummies to represent the people instead of actual peoples.’
    • ‘The screen beauty claims many of her colleagues now have the expressionless faces of waxwork dummies.’
    • ‘My copy of you was very near perfect but lets face a dummy is a dummy.’
    • ‘This is an impressive collection though I should caution you the dummy gets a little creepy after multiple viewings…’
    • ‘Among the dummies he builds are authorized, exact replicas of his two friends.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘She photographed both live scenes and artificial tableaux involving mannequins and wax dummies.’
    • ‘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 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.’
    1. 1.1 A figure used for displaying or fitting clothes.
      ‘a tailor's dummy’
      • ‘It's red lacy sleeves flowed eloquently down the dress maker's dummy's sides.’
      • ‘On four large glass sheets, she has painted in black the silhouettes of a tailor's dummy, a piano, a desk and a garden.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The collision wrecked the window display - including a dummy dressed as Elvis - and caused thousands of pounds of damage.’
      • ‘She, meanwhile, had her stand with her arms out like a dressmaker's dummy, cutting her shirt down the middle of her back.’
      • ‘In the movie, he's a dark-haired American modelled on, of all things, a shop dummy.’
      • ‘Would he lend The Three Graces out as tailor's dummies?’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘For many years, in all weathers, a Swanndri-wearing tailor's dummy stood proudly outside his shop to show durability.’
      • ‘More macabre was the tailor's dummy strung up from a noose dangling off scaffolding on a building being demolished on Micklegate.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘In the corner to the right of the window, through which the moon pales, is a tailor's dummy in hessian.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Also present were dressmaker dummies draped in costumes worn during the performances.’
      • ‘On the roof of one of them a realistic ‘corpse’ - a tailor's dummy - was hidden.’
      • ‘And when you say towing mannequins, is that mannequin in the sense of, say a store dummy, basically a pretend human being?’
      • ‘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.’
      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 just checked out your author poster, and it scares me (the way clowns & ventriloquist dummies do).’
      • ‘Ventriloquists' dummies are always slightly sinister, giving one the sense that they might really have a life of their own.’
      • ‘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!’
      • ‘The most sinister of these is a ventriloquist dummy Joey found in an old abandoned house.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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…’
      • ‘I had a ventriloquist's dummy and used to do magic shows for the family.’
      • ‘A talking monkey is alright for children as a ventriloquist's dummy, but how about a doll which speaks only about AIDS and HIV.’
      • ‘Of course I should have probably looked through the spy hole because staring me in the face was a ventriloquist's dummy.’
      • ‘You know the old ventriloquist routine where the dummy doesn't want to go into the suitcase?’
      • ‘Like two ventriloquists' dummies or two sides of the same coin, both master and slave are locked in association.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Then he blinks, once, a bit slowly, like a ventriloquist dummy.’
      • ‘A dialogue: we are not ventriloquists' dummies who cannot speak for ourselves.’
      • ‘In reality, ‘Johny’ was a ventriloquist's dummy, but few seemed to mind about that.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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 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.’
  • 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’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Far too often the cats are clearly not real cats, but cat dummies and computer-generated cats.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Lectures on tactics and arms were held, and there was even drilling with dummy wooden guns.’
    • ‘Even when you ask them where a certain book is located, the computer they're using is just a dummy computer.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘By fitting the dummy front to the machine the details of cards used could be recorded, while the camera captured the PIN number.’
    • ‘Of course, NATO knows that we have these dummies, but cannot tell a dummy from a real rocket.’
    • ‘For the next few minutes it took the place of a wooden dummy, receiving more than it's share of abuse.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘One plausible scenario, he said, was that he had indeed threatened the cops with a dummy gun.’
    • ‘An American fighter dropped a dummy bomb on East Yorkshire by mistake, the US Air Force has confirmed.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Parkinson's Disease sufferers experience the same benefit from an inactive dummy drug as they do from a real medicine, new research has shown.’
    • ‘A dummy camera was set up earlier this year to prevent cars using the bus gate.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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 bolt is in place in the receiver so headspace is set at the same time.’
    • ‘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.
      • ‘Included here are selections from his finished prints, work prints, contact sheets, notes, notebooks, handmade photographic books, book dummies, and correspondence.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The dummy had turned out to be just that, a dummy, with the group consensus being that the magazine had been lobotomised.’
      • ‘I've been excited enough to spend several hours working up some page templates and a dummy contents page.’
      • ‘He introduced her to the group publisher, who fronted her enough money to produce a dummy for a new magazine.’
      • ‘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 book dummies, storyboards, jacket covers, and double page spreads were proudly displayed, still smelling strongly of glue and fixatives.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Although the dummy pages circulated before the launch looked bold and colourful, the first real front page had the distinct whiff of suburban newspaper.’
      mock-up, imitation, likeness, lookalike, representation, substitute, sample, copy, replica, reproduction
      View synonyms
    2. 2.2 A blank round of ammunition.
      • ‘Make a dummy round first to check chambering before you start loading a bunch of ammo.’
      • ‘Following the correct steps to adjust the three dies, we should have succeeded in making a dummy round.’
      • ‘I know what they'll look like, facial shields, dummy bullets, and sedatives.’
      • ‘They consisted of launching full-scale missile dummies with a first stage propulsion system and a simplified command system.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The work with officers started with maps and dummies and then proceeded to tactical field exercises.’
      • ‘I've seen cases where live rounds got in with the dummies, and vice versa.’
      • ‘Alternatively, you can make a dummy round with no primer or powder and leave the bullet seated way out.’
      • ‘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 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.’
    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.

    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He was no dummy and you had to be slick when playing this kind of game around him.’
    • ‘There are, according to a reader with too much time on his hands, hundreds of books for dummies.’
    • ‘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 know the guy, but he's not a dummy, believe me.’
    • ‘The unfortunate fact is that any dummy can assemble a list of keywords and upload their smartpages in just a few minutes.’
    • ‘I don't let him pretend (as some cartoonists do) that he's just a dummy.’
    • ‘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 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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘It's fairly obvious of her interest in him and he's no dummy, so maybe he's ignoring her to protect himself?’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘A capable ruler, he is no dummy, though he sometimes waits too long before taking action.’
    • ‘He's no dummy, taking a calculated gamble on his career.’
    • ‘So like a dummy, I go through there and pull out this date book.’
    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.

    • ‘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. 4.1 The exposed hand of the declarer's partner.
      • ‘The hand opposite each player is their dummy, but they cannot look at it until after the bidding.’
      • ‘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.’
    2. 4.2 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.’
      • ‘Playing with three players, the game uses a dummy hand for the fourth player.’
      • ‘He plays from the dummy just as if it were a fourth player sitting opposite the Declarer.’

verb

[WITH OBJECT]US
  • Create a mock-up of (a book, document, etc.) 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.’
    • ‘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.’

Phrasal Verbs

  • dummy up

    • Keep quiet; give no information.

      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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

/ˈdəmi//ˈdəmē/