duck out



Possibly an allusion to the abrupt manner in which a swimming duck can dive and disappear beneath the surface of the water.


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

  1. (idiomatic, intransitive) To depart quickly or exit abruptly, especially in a manner which does not attract notice and before a meeting, event, etc. has concluded.
    • 1921, Ring Lardner, Sr., The Big Town, ch. 4:
      Wile they was still talking along these lines, the orchestra begin to drool a Perfect Day, so I ducked out on the porch for air.
    • 1991, Richard Berke, "Sizzling 40-Year Streak Of Never Missing a Vote," New York Times, 8 June (retrieved 26 Nov 2010):
      Fearful of missing a roll-call, Representative Charles E. Bennett has ducked out of funerals, bolted from hospital beds and defied snowstorms to get to the House chamber.
    • 2002, Leonie Lamont, "Working mothers triumph in two rulings," Sydney Morning Herald (Australia), 29 Aug. (retrieved 26 Nov 2010):
      Cathy Song needed to duck out from work at 3pm to ferry her child from pre-school to a neighbour's.
  2. (idiomatic, transitive) To depart quickly or exit abruptly by way of, especially in a manner which does not attract notice and before a meeting, event, etc. has concluded.
    • 1981, "Copious Coping: How Other Mayors Fare," Time, 15 June:
      The four-term Democrat, known to critics as "King Kevin" and "Mayor De Luxe," has been threatened with recall petitions and recently ducked out the back door of a restaurant to avoid picketers.
  3. (idiomatic, intransitive, followed by of or from) To move or act so as to achieve avoidance, escape, or evasion.
    • 1911, Jack London, "A Piece of Steak" in When God Laughs and Other Stories:
      In the one moment he saw his opponent ducking out of his field of vision and the background of white, watching faces; in the next moment he again saw his opponent and the background of faces.
    • 1978, "Another free lunch" (editorial), St. Petersburg Times (USA), 20 March, p. 10A (retrieved 26 Nov 2010):
      Congress even now is considering enlarging that deficit by cutting those taxes. . . . It means ducking out of the basic Social Security problem.
    • 2002, Ian Taylor, "Obstacles to Change in Africa," Foreign Policy in Focus, 1 April (retrieved 26 Nov 2010):
      [A]ny project for renewal is subject to a wide variety of destabilizing forces, not least when elites seek to duck out from the commitments they themselves have made.

Usage notesEdit

  • When used in the sense of "to depart" or "to exit", there is sometimes a connotation that the resulting absence will be temporary, as in: I ducked out for a cigarette.

Coordinate termsEdit