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

  • n. An elected officeholder or group continuing in office during the period between failure to win an election and the inauguration of a successor.
  • n. An officeholder who has chosen not to run for reelection or is ineligible for reelection.
  • n. An ineffective person; a weakling.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A person or thing that is helpless, inefficient or disabled.
  • n. An elected official who has lost the recent election or is not eligible for reelection and is marking time until leaving office.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. See under Lame.
  • adj. Any office holder who is serving out a term after a replacement has been selected.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. an elected official still in office but not slated to continue


18th century - A person who had defaulted in the London Stock Exchange was said to waddle out of Exchange Alley like a lame duck. (Wiktionary)


  • A term of service in the hospice at the far edge of the town might also serve more turns than Meriet's, for Brother Mark, who tended the sick there, had been Cadfael's most valued assistant until a year or so ago, and he had recently suffered the loss of his favourite and much-indulged waif, the little boy Bran, taken into the household of Joscelin and Iveta Lucy on their marriage, and would be somewhat lost without a lame duck to cosset and care for.

    The Devil's Novice

  • Thinking of him now, and then considering Renee’s lame duck — yes, I see they are a rum couple.

    More Work for the Undertaker


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