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  • enPR: dŭk, IPA(key): /dʌk/
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  • Rhymes: -ʌk

Etymology 1Edit

From Middle English *dukken, from Old English *ducan, *duccan (to duck). Related to Scots dulk (to duck), Middle Dutch ducken (to duck), Low German ducken (to duck), German ducken (to duck), Danish dukke, dykke (to dive); a secondary verb akin to Middle English duken, douken (to duck, plunge under water, submerge), from Old English *dūcan (to dip, dive, duck), from Proto-Germanic *dūkaną (to dip, dive, bend down, stoop, duck), probably from Proto-Indo-European *dʰewb- (deep, hollow) (whence Proto-Germanic *dūbaną (to dive)). Related also to Scots dook, douk (to bathe, drench, soak, baptise), West Frisian dûke (to plunge, dive), Dutch duiken (to dive, plunge, duck), Low German duken (to duck, dive, stoop), German tauchen (to dive, plunge, immerse, duck), Swedish dyka (to dive, submerge).


duck (third-person singular simple present ducks, present participle ducking, simple past and past participle ducked)

  1. (intransitive) To quickly lower the head or body in order to prevent it from being struck by something.
  2. (transitive) To quickly lower (the head) in order to prevent it from being struck by something.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Jonathan Swift to this entry?)
  3. (transitive) To lower (something) into water; to thrust or plunge under liquid and suddenly withdraw.
    • Fielding
      Adams, after ducking the squire twice or thrice, leaped out of the tub.
  4. (intransitive) To go under the surface of water and immediately reappear; to plunge one's head into water or other liquid.
    • Dryden
      In Tiber ducking thrice by break of day.
  5. (intransitive) To bow.
    • Shakespeare
      The learned pate / Ducks to the golden fool.
  6. (transitive) To evade doing something.
    • 2018 July 21, Kathryn Hughes, “The strange cult of Emily Brontë and the 'hot mess' of Wuthering Heights”, in The Guardian[1]:
      Victorian women choosing to duck the demands of domestic life to spend their time doing something they enjoyed is hardly a novel idea.
  7. (transitive) To lower the volume of (a sound) so that other sounds in the mix can be heard more clearly.
    • 2007, Alexander U. Case, Sound FX: unlocking the creative potential of recording studio effects (page 183)
      The music is ducked under the voice.
  8. (intransitive, Australia) To enter a place for a short moment.
    I'm just going to duck into the loo for a minute, can you hold my bag?
  • (to lower the head): duck down
  • (to lower into the water): dip, dunk
  • (to lower in order to prevent it from being struck by something): dip

Coordinate termsEdit

  • (to lower the head or body to prevent it from being struck): hit the deck
Derived termsEdit
 duck on Wikipedia
A duck sitting on a grave.

Etymology 2Edit

From Middle English doke, ducke, dukke, dokke, douke, duke, from Old English duce, dūce (duck, literally dipper, diver, ducker), from Old English *dūcan (to dip, dive, duck), from Proto-Germanic *dūkaną (to dive, bend down). See verb above. Cognate with Scots duik, duke, dook (duck), Danish dukand, dykand (sea-duck), Swedish dykfågel (a diver, diving bird, plungeon), Middle Dutch duycker (diver), Low German düker (diver).


duck (countable and uncountable, plural ducks)

  1. An aquatic bird of the family Anatidae, having a flat bill and webbed feet.
  2. Specifically, an adult female duck; contrasted with drake and with duckling.
  3. (uncountable) The flesh of a duck used as food.
  4. (cricket) A batsman's score of zero after getting out. (short for duck's egg, since the digit "0" is round like an egg.)
  5. (slang) A playing card with the rank of two.
  6. A partly-flooded cave passage with limited air space.
  7. A building intentionally constructed in the shape of an everyday object to which it is related.
    A luncheonette in the shape of a coffee cup is particularly conspicuous, as is intended of an architectural duck or folly.
    • 2007, Cynthia Blair, "It Happened on Long Island: 1988—Suffolk County Adopts the Big Duck," Newsday, 21 Feb.:
      The Big Duck has influenced the world of architecture; any building that is shaped like its product is called a ‘duck’.
  8. A marble to be shot at with another marble (the shooter) in children's games.
  9. (US) A cairn used to mark a trail.
  10. One of the weights used to hold a spline in place for the purpose of drawing a curve.
  11. (finance, slang, dated) Synonym of lame duck (one who cannot fulfil their contracts)
Derived termsEdit
The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.

See alsoEdit


Etymology 3Edit

From Dutch doek, from Middle Dutch doeck, doec (linen cloth), from Old Dutch *dōc, from Proto-Germanic *dōkaz (cloth, rag), from Proto-Indo-European *dwōg-, *dwōk-. Cognate with German Tuch (cloth), Swedish duk (cloth, canvas), Icelandic dúkur (cloth, fabric).

Alternative formsEdit


duck (plural ducks)

  1. A tightly-woven cotton fabric used as sailcloth.
    • 1912, Katherine Mansfield, "The Woman At The Store", from Selected Short Stories:
      He was dressed in a Jaeger vest—a pair of blue duck trousers, fastened round the waist with a plaited leather belt.
  2. (in the plural) Trousers made of such material.
    • 1918, Rebecca West, The Return of the Soldier, Virago 2014, page 56:
      And they would go up and find old Allington, in white ducks, standing in the fringe of long grasses and cow-parsley on the other edge of the island […].
    • 1954, Doris Lessing, A Proper Marriage, HarperPerennial 1995, p. 74:
      A native servant emerged, anonymous in his white ducks and red fez, to say My Player was wanted on the telephone.

Etymology 4Edit

Potteries dialect, Black Country dialect and dialects of the former territory of Mercia (central England). Compare Danish dukke (doll), Swedish docka (baby; doll), dialectal English doxy (sweetheart).


duck (plural ducks)

  1. A term of endearment; pet; darling.
    And hold-fast is the only dog, my duck (William Shakespeare - The Life of King Henry the Fifth, Act 2, Scene 3).
  2. (Midlands) Dear, mate (informal way of addressing a friend or stranger).
    Ay up duck, ow'a'tha?
Derived termsEdit


  • duck at OneLook Dictionary Search
  • Birks, Steve (2005-01-26), “The history of the Potteries dialect”, in BBC[2], retrieved 2014-11-19





  1. Imperative singular of ducken.