Green’s Dictionary of Slang

duck n.1

1. [mid-16C+] (also duckling) a lover, a sweetheart; a general term of affection; thus duckheaded adj., romantic, sentimental.

2. [17C+] a prostitute; cite 1852 puns on sense 1, but adressees are three whores in court.

3. [early 19C+] a fine example of; usu. in phr. (a) duck of a..., duckey of a...

4. [early 19C+] a fellow, a person.

5. [mid-19C+] (orig. US Und.) a gullible fool.

6. [late 19C+] (US campus) a misfit, an unappealing person.

7. see ducks n.1

SE in slang uses

In compounds

duck-arsed (adj.) [-arsed sfx (1)] [1940s–60s]

1. (Irish) short and squat, with large buttocks.

2. a general derog.

duck butter (n.) [the smell, reminiscent of duck droppings + the colour of butter] [1930s+] (US)

1. semen.

2. smegma.

duck fart (n.)

[1940s–60s] (N.Z. juv.) the ‘plop’ of a stone falling into water.

duck fit (n.)

see separate entry .

duck-fucker (n.) (also duck plucker) [fucker n. (3)/pluck v. (1); note Grose (1785): ‘Duck f-ck-r, The man who has care of the poultry on board a ship of war’]

[1970s+] (US) an unpleasant, unpopular person.

duckhead (n.) [? resemblance]

1. [1970s+] (US black) a woman with short, nappy hair.

2. [1980s] a fool.

duck-house door (n.)

[20C+] (Ulster) a very thick slice of bread (and butter).

duck legs (n.)

[late 18C] short legs; thus duck-legged, short.

duckpond (n.)

1. [mid-17C; late 19C] (also ducking pond) the vagina.

2. [1920s] a joc. name for the Atlantic Ocean.

duck’s arse (n.)

see separate entry .

duck’s breakfast (n.)

[1900s–10s] (Aus.) a drink of water and a wash.

duck’s butt (n.) [butt n.1 (1a); ? resemblance; presumably it sticks up at the back]

1. [1970s] (US black) a woman with unkempt hair.

2. see duck’s arse n.

duck’s dinner (n.)

[1990s+] (Aus.) a drink of water, but no food to accompany it.

duck’s disease (n.) [like a duck, one waddles around with one’s buttocks close to the ground]

[1910s+] having short legs.

duck’s guts, the (n.)

1. [1970s] (W.I.) trouble.

2. [1990s+] (Aus.) something superlative.

duck shoot (n.) [‘like shooting ducks on a pond’]

[1940s+] (orig. milit.) a simple operation.

duck-shoving (n.) [19C cabman’s jargon duck-shoving, touting for passengers rather than waiting one’s turn in line; ult. image is of the farmyard; note WWI milit. duck shoving, evading duty]

[1910s+] (Aus./N.Z.) fighting for status, rank, position, esp. in political terms; occas. as duck-shove v.; thus duck-shover, one who uses unfair business methods; in gambling use, manipulating, using sleight of hand.

duck’s meat (n.)

[1990s+] (Ulster) mucus produced in the eye.

duck soup (n.)

see separate entry .

ducktail (n.) [the preferred hairstyle of the teen sub-culture]

1. [1940s] (also duck’s tail) a type of hairstyle in which the back of the hair is turned upwards in a manner similar to a duck’s tail.

2. attrib. use of sense 1.

3. [1950s+] (S.Afr.) a teddyboy.

4. attrib. use of sense 3.

In phrases

be in the duck’s guts (v.)

[20C+] (W.I.) to be in a hopeless situation, to be in irretrievable difficulties.

can a duck swim? (also can a fish dig water? does a duck like water? ...know water? does a fish swim? do fish swim? will a duck swim? ...fish swim? would a duck swim?) [forerunner of does a bear shit in the woods? Is the pope (a) Catholic? phr.]

[19C+] used to emphasize one’s absolute agreement; thus phr. can a duck whistle?, a sarcastic rejoinder.

chance the ducks (v.)

[mid-19C–1920s] to do something irrespective of the outcome.

for ducks [ety. unknown]

[1900s–60s] (US) for no special reason, ‘for the hell of it’.

have all one’s ducks in a row (v.) (also get all one’s ducks in a row) [? image of the mother duck and her attendant ducklings]

[1930s+] (US) to have one’s affairs in order .

like a duck on a June bug (adv.) (also ...a dough-pile)

[late 19C] (US) heavily, solidly; thus landed like a duck...

In exclamations