Green’s Dictionary of Slang

duck n.6

an evasion.

implied in do a/the duck
[US]R. Lardner ‘The Water Cure’ in Gullible’s Travels 175: In all the time o’ their mutual courtship they hadn’t been together for more’n five or six hours at a time, and never where one o’ them couldn’t make a quick duck when they got tired.
[US]R. Whitfield Green Ice (1988) 177: Supposing you and I made a duck for it.
[UK]Wodehouse Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit 92: Alluding to that quick duck of mine from the drawing room.

In phrases

cop a duck (v.)

(US) to hide, to stay out of the way.

[US]‘Red’ Rudensky Gonif 85: I copped a duck until mess.
do a/the duck (v.) (also do a duckaway)

to escape, to run off.

[US]F. Hutcheson Barkeep Stories 173: ‘Dey ’re sore ’cause I do me duckaway an’ dey t’ink dey ’ll just take a shot at me anyhow’.
[US]K. McGaffey Sorrows of a Show Girl Ch. v: As soon as the village yokels saw my trunks being unloaded they all did the grand duck for the theatre [...] thinking it was a show.
[Aus]C.J. Dennis ‘The Intro’ in Songs of a Sentimental Bloke 20: Thinks I, ‘I’m out o’ luck,’ / An’ done a duck.
[US]S. Ford Shorty McCabe on the Job 87: In that case [...] you’d better do a sudden duck. [Ibid.] 165: If you must know, I was doin’ a social duck.
[Aus]N. Lindsay Age of Consent 227: If that cop came round I could do a duck into the wardrobe.
fake the duck (v.)

(UK Und.) to perform, to do something (duplicitous).

[UK]Swell’s Night Guide 40: Jerry Donavan, of the scraping fraternity [...] has his nut screwed on the right way [...] Jerry tumbles to his customers, and can fake the duck rumbo, and no nunks.
Man of Pleasure’s Illus. Pocket-book n.p.: [I]f you do the coakham, and tumble to the slum, you may fake the duck in rumbo style.
play the duck (v.)

1. to behave in a cowardly manner.

[UK]Urquhart (trans.) Gargantua and Pantagruel (1927) I Bk I 163: Whoever of our party shall offer to play the duck, and shrink when blows are a dealing, I give myself to the devil if I do not make a monk of him.

2. to avoid.

[US]T.A. Dorgan in Zwilling TAD Lex. (1993) 64: K’mon — k’mon Don’t crackaloo. Just keep goin’. We’re tryin’ to lose that pest — We’re playin’ the duck for him.
[US]T.A. Dorgan in Zwilling TAD Lex. (1993) 46: (IS: Playing the duck as the chromo of the party gets ready to be escorted home) I don’t take horseface — no siree!
[US]E. Booth Stealing Through Life 193: Some Socialists are playing the duck completely on the draft.
[US]A.J. Liebling ‘The Jollity Building’ in Just Enough Liebling (2004) 262: After that he had to play the duck for Johnny for a couple of years.
[US]D. Runyon ‘Little Miss Marker’ in Runyon on Broadway (1954) 301: Many citizens are commencing to consider Marky something of a nuisance and are playing the duck for her.
[Can]R. Caron Go-Boy! 88: I played the duck to her for the rest of the day.