from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A durable, closely woven heavy cotton or linen fabric.
  • noun Clothing made of duck, especially white trousers.
  • noun An amphibious military truck used during World War II.
  • noun An amphibious truck used in emergencies, as to evacuate flood victims.
  • intransitive verb To lower quickly, especially so as to avoid something.
  • intransitive verb To evade; dodge.
  • intransitive verb To push (a person, for example) suddenly under water.
  • intransitive verb In bridge, to deliberately play a card that is lower than (an opponent's card).
  • intransitive verb To lower the head or body.
  • intransitive verb To move swiftly, especially so as to escape being seen.
  • intransitive verb To submerge the head or body briefly in water.
  • intransitive verb To evade a responsibility or obligation. Often used with out:
  • intransitive verb In bridge, to lose a trick by deliberately playing lower than one's opponent.
  • noun A quick lowering of the head or body.
  • noun A plunge under water.
  • noun Any of various wild or domesticated waterbirds of the family Anatidae, characteristically having a broad flat bill, short legs, and webbed feet.
  • noun A female duck.
  • noun The flesh of a duck used as food.
  • noun Slang A person, especially one thought of as peculiar.
  • noun Chiefly British A dear.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A diving inclination of the head.
  • noun A strong linen fabric simply woven without twill, lighter than canvas, and used for small sails, sails for pleasure-boats, and for men's wear. Duck is usually white or unbleached, but is sometimes made in plain colors.
  • noun A cotton fabric sometimes considered the second grade, for strength and durability, after double-warp (which see, under warp).
  • noun A sweetheart; a darling: a word of endearment, fondness, or admiration. It is sometimes also applied to things: as, a duck of a bonnet.
  • To plunge the head or the whole body into water and immediately withdraw; make a dip.
  • To nod or bob the head suddenly; bow.
  • Hence To give way; yield; cringe.
  • To dip or plunge in water and immediately withdraw: as, to duck a witch or a scold.
  • To lower or bend down suddenly, as in dodging a missile or an obstacle, or in saluting awkwardly: as, to duck the head.
  • In bridge, to lead a suit from the dealer or the dummy hand, and make no attempt to win the trick third hand, even when able to do so. See underplay.
  • noun In cricket, no score; zero: short for duck's-egg (which see).
  • noun A lamellirostral natatorial bird of the family Anatidœ and subfamily Anatinœ or Fuligulinœ (which see).
  • noun The female duck, as distinguished from the male, or drake (which see).
  • noun Some webfooted bird likened to or mistaken for a duck: as, the cobbler's-awl duck (that is, the avoset).
  • noun One of the stones used in playing the game of duck on drake.
  • noun The velvet scoter.
  • noun The surf-scoter.
  • noun The ruddy duck.
  • noun The female mallard.
  • noun The female pintail.
  • noun The harlequin.
  • noun The hooded merganser. Also called water-pheasant.
  • noun Specifically— The wood-duck (which see). See Aix.
  • noun The garganey or summer tcal, Querquedula circia.
  • noun Hence— To handle or use a thing recklessly; scatter; squander; throw into confusion: with with or of.
  • noun The wood-duck or summer duck, which breeds in trees.
  • noun The hooded merganser: so called from breeding in trees.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun A pet; a darling.
  • noun A linen (or sometimes cotton) fabric, finer and lighter than canvas, -- used for the lighter sails of vessels, the sacking of beds, and sometimes for men's clothing.
  • noun (Naut.), colloq. The light clothes worn by sailors in hot climates.


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Dutch doek, cloth, from Middle Dutch doec.]

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Alteration (influenced by duck) of DUKW.]

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English douken, to dive, possibly from Old English *dūcan; akin to Middle Low German and Middle Dutch dūken.]

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English doke, from Old English dūce, possibly from *dūcan, to dive; see duck.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Dutch doek, doeck ("linen cloth")

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Old English duce

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English douken, from Old English *dūcan, from Proto-Germanic *dūkanan. Akin to German tauchen ("to dive"), Dutch duiken.


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  • Cricket jargon - a score of 0 for an individual batsman. Originates from expression "to make a duck's egg". Embarrassing.

    November 30, 2007

  • Citation (fabric) on cleg.

    June 29, 2008

  • Three men walked into a bar, the fourth one ducked.

    November 1, 2008

  • Ah, my favorite variant of that is "A nun, a priest, and a Druid walk into a bar. You'd think one of them would've seen it."

    November 1, 2008

  • Or my favorite: A man, a lawyer, a redneck, a nun, a blonde, a dog, and a priest walk into a bar. The bartender looks up and says, "Is this some kind of joke?"

    November 2, 2008

  • All along the the backwater,

    Through the rushes tall,

    Ducks are a-dabbling,

    Up tails all!

    Ducks' tails, drakes' tails,

    Yellow feet a-quiver,

    Yellow bills all out of sight

    Busy in the river!

    - Kenneth Grahame, 'Duck's Ditty'.

    November 17, 2008

  • Noun. Term of endearment. Colloq. Northern England.

    December 22, 2008

  • 1. Originally the verb "dive, dip in water", a derivative of which gave the bird's name (in effect "diver, dipper"). An earlier English name for the bird, in various forms such as ænid, enid, enede, ende, extinct 1400s, was cognate with Latin anat-. The verbal sense "lower the head" is later: like dipping in water but without the water.

    2. The kind of cloth is unrelated. 'Duck tape' is attested considerably earlier than 'duct tape', but it's not obvious that the latter is derived by alteration of the former: it might well be an independent invention coincidentally similar.

    May 27, 2009

  • I watched her for a minute or two; she was the old Miranda, owned by some of the Caplins, and I knew her by an odd shaped patch of newish duck that was set into the peak of her dingy mainsail.

    --Sarah Orne Jewett, 1896, The Country of the Pointed Firs

    January 28, 2010

  • I have three ducks at my house

    March 5, 2011

  • North American trail marks are sometimes called "ducks" or "duckies", because they sometimes have a "beak" pointing in the direction of the route. The expression "two rocks do not make a duck" reminds hikers that just one rock resting upon another could be the result of accident or nature rather than intentional trail marking.

    (Wikipedia: Cairn)

    June 7, 2011