General English


  • noun a bird reared for both egg and meat production. The male is a ‘drake’.


  • noun a batsman’s score of nought, so called because of the supposed resemblance between a duck’s egg (the original term – see below) and the figure ‘0’ in the scorebook. (The analogous term ‘love’, used in tennis and other games, has a similar derivation – from l’oeuf, ‘the egg’).
    See also brace, pair


  • The general name for a family of swimming birds Anatidae with webbed feet and a broad flat beak, some wild, others domesticated, common in french and Chinese cuisines.


  • verb to lower your head and upper body instinctively to avoid a projectile


  • noun a score of nil or zero in sport, especially cricket. The term is at least a century old and derives from the resemblance between the written or printed 0 and the egg.
  • noun an unattractive female. The term, which may be connected to the notion of a waddling gait, is in use among college students. In the late 1950s and early 1960s the same word was used by beatniks as a neutral synonym for chick.


  • noun the meat of this bird used as food

Origin & History of “duck”

A duck is a bird that ‘ducks’ – as simple as that. It gets its name from its habit of diving down under the surface of the water. there is no actual record of an English verb duck until the 14th century, but it is generally assumed that an Old English verb *dūcan did exist, which would have formed the basis of the noun duck. It came from a prehistoric west Germanic verb *dukjan, which also produced German tauchen ‘dive’. English is the only language which uses this word for the bird, although Swedish has the term dykand, literally ‘dive-duck’, which refers to the ‘diver’, a sort of large waterbird. Nor is it the original English word: the Anglo-Saxons mainly called the duck ened, a term which survived until the 15th century. This represents the main Indo-European name for the duck, which comes from an original *anəti- and is found in Greek nessa, Latin anas, German ente, Dutch eend, Swedish and, and Russian utka.