Green’s Dictionary of Slang

duck n.1

1. (also duckling) a lover, a sweetheart; a general term of affection; thus duckheaded adj., romantic, sentimental.

[UK]C. Bansley Pryde and Abuse of Women line 113: Ducke, Jelot, ducke; ducke, pretye minion, Beware the cokingstoole; Ducke, galant trickers, wyth shame ynoughe, Your wanton corage for to cole.
[UK]Shakespeare Midsummer Night’s Dream V i: O dainty duck! O dear!
[UK]Marston Jacke Drums Entertainment Act II: Tell my sweet Duck I am here.
[UK]Middleton & Dekker Roaring Girle III ii: Sweet duck looke cheerly.
[UK]R. Brome Northern Lasse IV v: I will return to thee in the Evening, Duck.
[UK]J. Taylor ‘A Whore’ in Works (1869) II 112: The rich Gull Gallant call’s her Deare and Loue, / Ducke, Lambe, Squall, Sweet-heart, Cony, and his Doue.
[UK]H. Mill Nights Search I 57: Tat foine Duck as hoydes her vace.
[UK]T. Randolph Hey for Honesty IV iii: O, good morrow, Old duck, old Helen!
[UK] ‘Insatiate Lover’ in Farmer Merry Songs and Ballads (1897) II 50: Come hither my own sweet duck, / And sit upon my knee.
Mr C. Bristol Drollery 68: When I’ve call’d thee Duck and Dear, And woo’d thee with a sigh or tear.
[UK] ‘Tom Tinker’ in Farmer Merry Songs and Ballads (1897) I 171: He calls me his Jewel, his delicate Duck.
[UK]N. Ward Wooden World 10: How fond soever he appears of his dear Duck’s Company, he makes no tiresome Stay with her.
[UK]J. Addison Drummer III i: Your lady must make haste, my duck. [Ibid.] IV i: But, hark you, duckling!
[UK] ‘Sick Wife’ Pleasures of Coition iii: The Good-Man, careful for n’own Dear, / Limps after to her Chamber; / Cries, duck, I’m due t’ye in Arrear, / I’ll do’t fine as Amber.
[UK]H. Carey Dragon of Wantley II i: My Duck! I will not stay.
[UK] ‘Honey Moon’ Musical Companion 7: My dead and my duck, / My sweetest, my chuck.
New Hampshire Spy ‘Married Man’s Litany’ 10 June in Mencken (1936) n.p.: From visiting bagnios, those seats of despair, / Where chickens will call you my duck and my dear / In hopes that your purse may fall to their share, / Deliver me!
[UK]C. Dibdin ‘All for the Chink’ Buck’s Delight 28: My dove, my duck, my angel bright, / Without your cash your kissing won’t do!
[UK]G. Colman Yngr ‘Two Parsons’ Poetical Vagaries 128: ‘Come, duck!’ he cried, ‘make haste, and dry the Shirt.’.
[UK]T. Morton A School For Grown Children V ii: ’Tis the school of mutual instruction where faithless husbands learn prudence and uxoriousness, and vixen wives to lisp my duck and my deary.
[UK] ‘Chloe & Her Coral’ Lummy Chaunter 92: Her husband, to amuse his duck, / Gives her a pretty thing to suck, / ’Tis like,’tis like her coral!
[US]‘Ned Buntline’ Mysteries and Miseries of N.Y. I 36: Why, my duck, I’m agoin’ to open it with a jimmy and a dark lantern, to be sure!
[UK]D. Jerrold Heart of Gold Act I: Molly’s a lamb – a duck – and a daisy.
[Aus]Melbourne Punch 9 Aug. 7/1: ‘Slangiana’ [...] My darling duck, what is’t you say? / You’ll be your fondest spooney’s joy.
[UK] ‘Why I Am a Bachelor’ Temple Bar Mag. May 232: Susie is the prettiest – a regular little duck.
[US] in G. Legman Limerick (1953) 16: There was a young man of Ostend / Whose wife caught him fucking her friend. / ‘It’s no use, my duck, / Interrupting our fuck, / For I’m damned if I draw till I spend’.
[UK]Sporting Times 5 Jan. 5/3: Here’s a snappy New Year to the little ducks.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 3 Jan. 11/3: The dear, innocent, old duck!
[NZ]N.Z. Observer and Free Lance (Auckland) 20 Mar. 23/1: The high school girls look a charming lot [...] The little ducks.
[UK]‘F. Anstey’ Voces Populi 74: Isn’t he a duck?
[UK]Sporting Times 11 Feb. 4/1: She said she’d do anything for the duchess, for she was a duck.
[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 26 Aug. 4/8: There’s a duck who danced at the Guv’nor’s hop / In a blouse all lace and blush.
[NZ]N.Z. Truth 29 Sept. 7/5: Oh, you darling duck of a husband!
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 31 Oct. 18/1: [cartoon caption: a sailor is addressing his girl] Jack: ‘You’re a duck.’.
[UK]A. Christie Secret Adversary (1955) 89: Oh, Julius, isn’t he just a duck?
[UK]Jennings & Madge May the Twelfth: Mass-Observation Day-Surveys 3:6: The barmaid called N. ‘duck’. He raised his eyebrows.
[UK](con. 1919) R. Westerby Mad in Pursuit 16: Don’t pull its tail, duck.
[US]J.M. Cain Moth (1950) 317: He’s a duck.
[UK]C. Harris Three-Ha’Pence to the Angel 58: Well – good night, duck.
[US]Mad mag. Dec. 27: The eccentric old duck would first put on something insane.
[UK]N. Dunn Up the Junction 108: ‘You cold, duck?’ he says. ‘Get under them covers.’.
[UK]A. Sillitoe Start in Life (1979) 18: It don’t mean much, duck.
[UK]K. Lette Foetal Attraction (1994) 203: Sorry, old duck.
OnLine Dict. of Playground Sl. [Internet] duck adj. affectionate term used from friend. e.g. ‘You alright duck?’ f. pos abbr & mutation of cockney expression for wife – duchess.

2. a prostitute; cite 1852 puns on sense 1, but adressees are three whores in court.

[UK]E. Sharpham Fleire II i: Their meate [...] comes no sooner from Table, but t’one fellow has a fatte Ducke by the rumpe, thother a slipperie Ele by the taile, and an olde Courtier that best knew the tricks on’t, was mumbling of a Cunnie in a corner alone by himselfe.
Webster White Devil II i: We feare When Tyber to each proling passenger Discovers flockes of wild-duckes, then my Lord (’Bout moulting time, I meane) wee shall be certaine To finde you sure enough.
[UK]R. Brathwait Barnabees Journal III V: Thence to Smeton [...] Where dainty Ducks, and gant ones, / Wenches that could play the wantons.
[UK] in Furnivall & Hales Bishop Percy’s Folio Manuscript of Loose and Humorous Songs (1868) 108: A dainty ducke I Chanced to meet; shee wondered what I wold doe.
[UK]C. Cotton Erotopolis 29: [Bettyland decoy ducks] exceed all other Decoy-ducks that are in the world in wiles and subtilty.
[UK]‘A Grand Turn-Up’ in Randy Songster in Spedding & Watt (eds) I 187: As for Bet the flower girl, oh, she vos sich a duck!
[UK]Sam Sly 23 Dec. 1/3: THINGS SAM SLY WISHES TO KNOW ‘VERY PARTICULARLY.’ [...] Why the Commissioners of Woods and Forests don’t request visitors to St. James’s Park to protect the lady ducks as the aquatic ones?
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 14 Aug. 3/2: Well Miss Green, was she as quiet as a little duck? As you ladies are all ducks, I suppose you know what that is.
[Aus]Truth (Sydney) 26 Jan. 12/6: My word, but they’re auful [sic] cunnin’ / Are those ducks, Sir, all the time! / If they’re juvenile in years, Sir, / They’re no juvenile in crime [...] These decoy ducks picks their marks, / They knows well he game they're on.

3. a fine example of; usu. in phr. (a) duck of a..., duckey of a...

[UK]M. Wilmot letter 26 Nov. in More Letters from Marcia Wilmot (1935) 31: I shall presently throw my letter into the long drawer at the top of my duck of a secretaire .
[UK]R.B. Peake Haunted Inn II ii: The prettiest bonnet, and such a duck of a riding-habit.
[UK] ‘Queen Victoria’s Baby’ in Henderson Victorian Street Ballads (1937) 144: About the Queen’s baby, the duck of a baby.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 7 Oct. 3/2: A crimson velvet bonnet (oh! such a duck!).
[UK]Sam Sly 24 Feb. 4/2: Do you know such a duck of a young man has made me an offer.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 9 Aug. 2/7: Bronze shoes, kid gloves, and a duck of a bonnet.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 17 Sept. 3/2: The prettiest duckey of a parasol ever purchased.
Salem (IL) Advocate 24 Feb. 1: He wanted to be cognizant of my opinion of her. ‘Isn’t she a duck of a girl?’ he asked, with raptures.
[UK]T. Taylor Ticket-Of-Leave Man Act III: What a duck of a bonnet!
[Aus]‘Rolf Boldrewood’ Robbery Under Arms (1922) 182: What a lovely, splendid duck of a watch!
[Aus]Truth (Sydney) 2 Dec.. 1/6: A duck of a bonnet quickly finds a goose of a purchaser.
[UK]A. Binstead Gal’s Gossip 120: I make it a rule to keep a duck of a transparent crêpe de chine night gown [...] on a chair by my bedside.
[UK]H.B. Norris [perf. Vesta Tilley] Burlington Bertie [lyrics] What price Burlington Bertie / [...] / Oh! what a duck of a boy.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 31 Aug. 17: Wife:– ‘O John, I saw such a duck of a revolver yesterday with a blue enamelled handle’.
[US]C. Sandburg letter in Mitgang (1968) 229: That is a duck, a darling and a darb of a book.
[US]J. Dixon Free To Love 240: It’s a perfect duck of a place, crammed full of atmosphere.
[UK]A. Sinclair My Friend Judas (1963) 175: What a duck of a doll she was.

4. a fellow, a person.

[UK]‘An Amateur’ Real Life in London I 558: How the Jarman Duck diddled the Dandies just now.
[UK]Phoenix (Sacramento) 4 Oct. 1: Which one of the handsome ‘ducks’ is it, that has sent his wife to the Atlantic side?
Border Watch (Mt Gambier, SA) 31 Oct. 3/2: THE LATEST SLANG CREATION IN NEW YORK [...] His friends are ‘gay ducks’’.
[US]‘Mark Twain’ Innocents at Home 331: Are you the duck that runs the gospel-mill next door?
[US]Ft Worth Dly Gaz. (TX) 29 Aug. 6/4: No gillie can do me, and that duck’s a macer sure’s you’re born.
[US]J. London Tramp Diary in Jack London On the Road (1979) 43: The commissary ducks have a fat time of it, but of course they have to work pretty hard.
[US]‘Hugh McHugh’ Down the Line 101: When we reached Westchester we met a Society duck named Lionel von Hamburg.
[US]S. Ford Shorty McCabe 109: Then the three other ducks swarms in, and [...] powwows around there for a few minutes.
[US]Van Loan ‘Little Sunset’ in Ten-Thousand-Dollar Arm 98: He’s a funny duck [...] I can’t make him out.
[US](con. 1900s) S. Lewis Elmer Gantry 93: What a rotten pulpit voice the poor duck has.
[US]Z. Grey Robbers’ Roost 158: Hank shore is a queer duck, takin’ up with strangers like he does.
[US]B. Schulberg What Makes Sammy Run? (1992) 9: He was a sweet old grey-haired duck.
[US]J. Weidman Price Is Right 121: He’s a funny duck.
[Ire]P. Boyle At Night All Cats Are Grey 256: Bejazus, ye’re an odd duck surely.
[UK]Guardian Rev. 18 Sept. 12: Another vague old duck, Ronald Reagan.
[US]Week (US) 4 May 17: She is an ‘odd-looking duck with an oddly grating voice’.

5. (orig. US Und.) a gullible fool.

[US]Ladies’ Repository (N.Y.) Oct. VIII:37 316/1: Duck, a simple man who is easily imposed on.
[US]‘Ned Buntline’ G’hals of N.Y. 18: Yer see, this kind o’ life may be all very well for them that like it – but I aint one o’ them ’ere ducks.
[US]C.S. Montanye ‘Thieves Three’ in Detective Story 1 Apr. [Internet] The old duck I danced with is minus a watch and chain; and I’ve caught you for the roll and the sparkler!
[UK]Kipling ‘A Friend of the Family’ in Debits and Credits (1926) 313: Those ducks on the bench, who had turned down Bert, noddin’ and smilin’ at Margetts, all full of his cabbage and green pea.
[US]‘Bill O. Lading’ You Chirped a Chinful!! n.p.: Ducks: Newly inducted men.
[US]M. Braly Felony Tank (1962) 142: How much of a duck do you think I am?
[US]C. Shafer ‘Catheads [...] and Cho-Cho Sticks’ in Abernethy Bounty of Texas (1990) 203: duck, n. – [...] one easily fooled.
[US]Bentley & Corbett Prison Sl. 35: Duck An insulting term meaning gullible fool. It is usually used in a good-natured and humorous way.

6. (US campus) a misfit, an unappealing person.

[US]W.C. Gore Student Sl. in Cohen (1997) 11: duck n. […] 2. Nearly equivalent to [...] ‘duffer’.
[US]E.H. Babbitt ‘College Words and Phrases’ in DN II:i 33: duck, n. A queer fellow.
[US]‘Maxwell Grant’ ‘Murder Marsh’ in Shadow Oct. [Internet] Well, it would take a queer duck like him to buy that old Culeth house.
[US]P. Munro Sl. U. 4: Randy is totally uncool. He’s such a duck.

7. see ducks n.1

SE in slang uses

In compounds

duck-arsed (adj.) [-arsed sfx (1)]

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

[UK]P. Kavanagh Tarry Flynn (1965) 78: All the girls, with the exception of Mary Callan, were squat, and as the country phrase had it ‘duck-arsed’.

2. a general derog.

[UK]B. Reckord Skyvers I ii: Bossed about by a duck-arsed public school bloke I ’ated.
duckbutt (n.) [butt n.1 (1a)]

(US) a short person.

R.I. McDavid ‘Citadel Gloss.’ AS XIV:1 26/2: duck-butt [...] A short person.
[UK] in Campbell & Campbell War Paint 78: [aircraft nose art] ‘Duck-Butt’.
[US]Wentworth & Flexner DAS.
[US](con. 1966) P. Conroy Lords of Discipline 311: Just shut up and wrap ankles like a good little duckbutt.
duck butter (n.) [the smell, reminiscent of duck droppings + the colour of butter] (US)

1. semen.

[US]AS VIII:1 48: duck butter, n. Sperm, seminal fluid.
[US] in V. Randolph Pissing in the Snow (1988) 138: He smeared a handful of duckbutter right under the town girl’s nose.
[US]Randolph & Wilson Down in the Holler 114: Some people connect it vaguely with the common term duck-butter, which means semen or seminal fluid.
Thug’s Journal 10 May [Internet] Swappin spit with Queenie [...] Got duckbutter on the head gaskets.

2. smegma.

[US]H. Rhodes Chosen Few (1966) 34: Th’ las’ cat Two-Ton got hold of went up for havin’ duck butter on his joint.
[US]B. Rodgers Queens’ Vernacular.
[US]AS LVI:1 16: In my own native dialect (of the Gulf Coastal plain of Texas) duck butter means ‘smegma’.
duck fart (n.)

(N.Z. juv.) the ‘plop’ of a stone falling into water.

R. Simonsen (1951) ipostcard DNZE 233/3: duckfart was used in a game of skimming stones by Palmerston North boys.
[NZ]G. Slatter Pagan Game (1969) 51: The hurling of stones straight up in the air so they would fall into the back-water with that satisfying plup known as a duck fart.
[NZ]McGill Reed Dict. of N.Z. Sl.
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’]

(US) an unpleasant, unpopular person.

[US]L. Dills CB Slanguage 35: Duck Plucker: obscene term (euphemism).
[US]Maledicta 1 (Summer) 16: Something stronger is searched for, and many people find it in sexual accusations: that the other person is impotent, a masturbator, and especially that he is a homosexual or has sexual relations with animals: he is a duck-fucker or a pig-sticker.
posting at sclassic.ssonicnet.com 1 Oct. [Internet] For the record, I also feel that anyone who derides someone else simply because of their choice of music, is a numbnut duckfucker.
duckpond (n.)

1. (also ducking pond) the vagina.

[UK]R. Brome Damoiselle III ii: Truly but one that’s a Gamester amongst us at the ducking pond; a Cobler, but the neatest Fellow at Poetry.
[UK]Farmer & Henley Sl. and Its Analogues.
[UK]Farmer Vocabula Amatoria (1966) 175: Livre, m. The female pudendum; ‘the duck-pond’.

2. a joc. name for the Atlantic Ocean.

[UK]E. Blair in College Days (Eton) 4 1 Apr. in Complete Works X (1998) 64: I guess you College students on this side of the duckpond know what’s what in the liquor department.
duck’s arse (n.)

see separate entry .

duck’s breakfast (n.)

(Aus.) a drink of water and a wash.

[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 6 Aug. 10/3: Unsubstantial Diet. / Benevolent Old Party: ‘And have you had nothing to eat this morning?’ / Derelict: ‘Nothin’, lady, ’cept a duck’s breakfast.’ / B.O.P.: ‘A duck’s breakfast – dear me!’ / Derelict: ‘Yes, mum. A drink o’ worter an’ a wash.’.
[Aus]W.H. Downing Digger Dialects 21: duck’s breakfast — A drink of water and a wash.
[Aus](con. WWI) A.G. Pretty Gloss. of Sl. [...] in the A.I.F. 1921–1924 (rev. t/s) n.p.: ducks breakfast. A drink of water and a wash.
[UK](con. WWI) A.E. Strong in Partridge Sl. Today and Yesterday 287: I had started off with a duck’s breakfast, but I saw a cookhouse and decided to give it a pop for a binder.
duck’s dinner (n.)

(Aus.) a drink of water, but no food to accompany it.

Stay Awake Tonight Fiction [Internet] ‘Did he go for a kip?’ This struck her as a little odd. ‘Good. make sure he has more than a duck’s dinner, okay?’ ‘What?’ ‘He should eat.’.
duck’s disease (n.) [like a duck, one waddles around with one’s buttocks close to the ground]

having short legs.

[Aus](con. WWI) A.G. Pretty Gloss. of Sl. [...] in the A.I.F. 1921–1924 (rev. t/s) n.p.: ducks disease. A description of a person’s physical build indicating that his legs are short and his buttocks are too near the ground.
[UK]C. Harris Death of a Barrow Boy 62: That? ’S an elephant. Elephant with duck’s disease.
[UK]P. Barker Blow Your House Down 74: There was all hell let loose if you forgot and called her Waddle, because she did, you know. Duck’s disease.
OnLine Dict. of Playground Sl. [Internet] ducks disease adj. to have short legs, i.e. from having one’s bum too close the floor.
duck’s guts, the (n.)

1. (W.I.) trouble.

[WI]F. Collymore Notes for Gloss. of Barbadian Dial. 42: Duck’s guts. In trouble; as, If you get catch doing that boy, you going to be in the duck’s guts.
[Aus](con. 1945–6) P. Doyle Devil’s Jump (2008) 101: No one you’d know. But it’s [i.e. a record] the duck’s guts.

2. (Aus.) something superlative.

Senate Hansard 9 Nov. n.p.: Senator Ellison: This is the ducks guts, as we term it in Western Australia.
[Aus]Larry’s Aussie Sl. and Phrase Dict. [Internet] the Ducks guts – some things really great (don’t ask me why).
duck shoot (n.) [‘like shooting ducks on a pond’]

(orig. milit.) a simple operation.

[US]C. Cooper Jr Syndicate (1998) 68: It wouldn’t have been difficult for him to play duck shoot while I drooled all over the floor.
[US]T. Wolfe Right Stuff 88: That great duck shoot out over Korea.
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]

(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.

[D. Blair N&Q 6 Aug. iii: Duck-shoving is the term used by our Melbourne cabmen to express the unprofessional trick of breaking the rank, in order to push past the cabman on the stand for the purpose of picking up a stray passenger or so].
[[Aus]Stephens & O’Brien Materials for a Dict. of Aus. Sl. [unpub. ms.] 65: DUCK-SHOVING: poultry stealing, a form of petty theft sneered at by higher grade thieves].
[UK]E. Pugh City Of The World 265: ’Cos, you see, in duck-shoving at cards you ain’t got no footlights and no band between you and your audience.
[Aus]Eve. News (Sydney) 3 July 11/4: [from UK] ‘I am told,’ said a plaintiff in the Southwark County Court, ‘that the man (referring to the defendant) is nothing more than a duck-shover - a man who gets things on the ‘bounce’ and the ‘nod.’ .
[[Aus]Sydney Sportsman (Surry Hills, NSW) 4 Mar. 3/2: I was workin’ on the quiet / [...] / So as how I’d not be summoned / For duck-shoving].
[UK]Framlingham Wkly News 8 Dec. 3/7: Thieves’ Dialect [...] Woe betide the ‘shyster’ (cheat) who tries and ‘duck-shoving’ (bamboozling).
[Aus]Baker Popular Dict. Aus. Sl. 26: Duckshover, one who adopts unfair business methods.
[NZ]McGill Dict. of Kiwi Sl. 40/2: duckshove to cheat or pass responsibility on to someone else, perceived as a typical bureaucratic trick; [...] Originally cabbies jumping the queue in mid-C19 Melbourne cab ranks.
[NZ]McGill Reed Dict. of N.Z. Sl. [as cit. 1988].
Nat. Conf. of Catholic Charities (US) ‘Catholic Charities Rev.’ 32: We know that on the political scene — our government, for example — is duck shoving and evading the issue.
duck soup (n.)

see separate entry .

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

1. (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.

[US]J. Steinbeck Wayward Bus 98: From his side pocket he took a little comb and combed his hair back smoothly and patted it behind where the suggestion of a duck tail stood out.
[[Aus]Morn. Bulletin (Rockhampton, Qld) 2 Mar. 5/4: The young Sydney street-corner men grow thick, waved, oily hair gathered like a duck’s tail].
[SA]L.F. Freed Crime in S. Afr. 80: Their hair is invariably dyed ginger, and cut and brushed back to simulate a ducktail.
[Aus]W. Dick Bunch of Ratbags 160: He had black wavy hair cut in a Tony Curtis style with a duck’s tail.
[UK]Sun. Times Rev. 21 Aug. 29: His greasy ducktails straggled past his turned-up collar.
[US]S. King Christine 355: He had started combing his hair back in a fifties-style ducktail.
[US]E. Bunker Mr Blue 25: I wore a ducktail upswept along the sides, so thick with Three Flowers pomade.
A. Kleinzahler Cutty one Rock (2005) 89: Ducktail. leather jacket. Looked like a robber.

2. attrib. use of sense 1.

Intercollegian 61-2 n.p.: Some of these boys affected the drape coat with the local addition of a "duck-tail’ haircut.
[US]I. Shulman Amboy Dukes 4: The boys sported duck-tail haircuts: long, shaggy and clipped to form a point at the backs of their heads.
[US]Kramer & Karr Teen-Age Gangs 28: From behind the cap his glossy black hair came together then pushed up in the ducktail hair dress which was fashionable among the War Hawks.
Intellect 85-6 336: Nonconformity reflects itself in appearance, to include leather jackets and duck-tail haircuts. [...] Youth taking such pains with their hair are clearly rebelling against something, setting themselves apart from human society.
[US]E. De Roo Big Rumble 28: His black hair was plastered into a duck-tail cowlick.
[US]T. Jones Pugilist at Rest 35: But when I cut it short, ducktail style, everybody always mistaking me for Elvis.
[UK]Guardian Guide 13–19 Nov. 4: Goodman’s addiction to hair pomade resulted in a frightening ducktail do.

3. (S.Afr.) a teddyboy.

[SA]Rand Daily Mail 21 Dec. 6: A man who admitted picking up a police constable and throwing him to the ground, said in the [...] Magistrate’s Court [...] that because he was a former ducktail, trying to reform, the world ‘had it in for him’ [DSAE].
[SA]Wilson & Mafeje Langa 23 : He uses a mixture of Afrikaans and Xhosa slang – indeed the language of the tsotsis in Johannesburg, mensetaal, is said to be identical with that of white ‘ducktails’, and in Cape Town tsotsi and ‘ducktail’ speech approximates.
[SA]L.F. Freed Crime in S. Afr. 105: Thus a ducktail is a youth dressed in the manner already described, but always with long hair swept back at the sides, and he may or may not be respectable.
E. Leroux To a Dubious Salvation 286: The ducktail twanged the guitar as though he could hear the truth in the instrument.
[SA]C. Hope Ducktails in Gray Theatre Two (1981) 35: jimmie: Y’know who I am? boy: Sure. You’ Jimmie. Used to be a ducktail.
[SA]C. Hope Ducktails in Gray Theatre Two (1981) 59: Old ducktails don’t go to jail. they just get older.
[SA]R. Gool Cape Town Coolie 156: A firm of Afrikaaner Nationalists [...] were assembling an armed mob of ducktails or European hooligans to move in if any demonstrations against rent increases occurred.

4. attrib. use of sense 3.

[SA]Wilson & Mafeje Langa 23 : He uses a mixture of Afrikaans and Xhosa slang – indeed the language of the tsotsis in Johannesburg, mensetaal, is said to be identical with that of white ‘ducktails’, and in Cape Town tsotsi and ‘ducktail’ speech approximates.
[SA]L.F. Freed Crime in S. Afr. 80: These youths are accordingly known as ‘ducktail boys’, but they are also referred to as ‘teddy boys’ on account of their Edwardian style of dress.

In phrases

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.]

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

[UK]G. Colman Yngr Wags of Windsor 14: Bull. You have been in service before? Looney: Does a duck swim.
[UK]R. Nicholson Cockney Adventures 4 Nov. 7: ‘Vill yer arn a shilling easy?’ said the groom. ‘Can a duck swim?’ answered he of the frock.
[Ire]S. Lover Handy Andy 35: ‘Will you dine with me?’ ‘Will a duck swim,’ chuckled out Jack Horan.
[US]H.W. Forester My Shooting Box 90: ‘A roast leg of mutton?’ [...] ‘Will you have some?’ ‘Will a fish swim?’.
[US]Kalida Venture (OH) 22 Oct. 1/3: He asked him ina whisper, ‘Can you ride?’ ‘Can a duck swim?’ returned the fellow with a knowing wink.
[UK] ‘Under the Earth’ (n Dick’s Standard Plays ((1871)) II i: hart: Do you smoke? tom: Can a duck swim?
[UK]B.L. Farjeon Betrayal of John Fordham 281: ‘If I orfer yer a job will yer take it?’ ‘Will a duck swim?’ I answered.
[UK]L. Barclay [perf. Vesta Victoria] He calls me his own Grace Darling [lyrics] When the parson says, ‘Will you marry this man?’ / I’ll say, ‘Can a duck swim?’.
[US]B. Fisher A. Mutt in Blackbeard Compilation (1977) 11: Will he be there Monday? Can a duck swim?
[US]O. Johnson Varmint 203: ‘P. Lentz study?’ said Finnegan contemptuously. ‘Can a duck whistle?’.
[UK]T. Burke Nights in Town 397: Do I know the South London Road? Does a duck know water?
[Ire]Joyce Ulysses (1960) 405: Could you make a hole in another pint? – Could a swim duck? says I.
[UK]M. Marshall Travels of Tramp-Royal 264: ‘And the makings?’ ‘The makings, too, chum.’ ‘Can a duck swim!’.
[US]J.M. Cain Mildred Pierce (1985) 480: ‘But – aren’t you interested?’ ‘Does a duck like water?’.
[Ire]B. Behan Scarperer (1966) 38: ‘Would you like a ball of malt in the morning?’ [...] ‘Would a duck swim?’.
[US]K. Vonnegut ‘A Present for Big Saint Nick’ in Bagombo Snuff Box (1999) 164: ‘Is he drunk?’ said Mrs. Pullman. ‘Do fish swim?’ said Bernie.
[UK]L. Dunne Goodbye to the Hill (1966) 63: ‘Do you drink, Paddy?’ ‘Does a fish swim?’.
[Ire]P. Boyle At Night All Cats Are Grey 65: ‘Would you face a pint, Kreuger?’ Would a duck swim? ‘Yes, sir. I would indeed.’.
[US]G. Scott-Heron Vulture (1996) 12: ‘You int’rested in some good Red?’ he asked. ‘Can a fish dig water?’.
[UK]A. Higgins ‘The Bird I Fancied’ in Helsingør Station and Other Departures 160: ‘Would you chance another [drink]?’ ‘Would a duck swim?’.
chance the ducks (v.)

to do something irrespective of the outcome.

Bentleys’ Misc. 316: Another waggon, drawn by eight bullocks, having broken down, I determined to chance the ducks and push on.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 1 Jan. 3/4: She was discharged and promised to go home and ‘chance the ducks’.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 25 June 3/2: I’m as right as you, uncle, and chance the ducks; ha! ha! ha!
[UK]Sl. Dict. 113: Chance the ducks, an expression signifying come what may. ‘I'll do it, and chance the ducks.’.
Newtonian 61: Can there be an explanation of that remarkable phrase ‘Chance the ducks’ – which one often hears used so freely.
[UK]Farmer & Henley Sl. and Its Analogues.
[UK]G.L. Apperson Eng. Pvbs.
for ducks [ety. unknown]

(US) for no special reason, ‘for the hell of it’.

F.V. Fisher Transformation of Job 13: ‘Gracious sakes, boy! what did you scare me for?’ [...] ‘Oh, just for ducks!’.
[US]J. London Valley of the Moon (1914) 520: I passed young Chavon [...] an’ – I don’t know why – just for ducks, I guess – I up an’ asked ’m if he thought the old man would lease the hundred an’ forty.
[US](con. 1890s) L. Steffens Autobiog. 276: ‘But what are you doing it for?’ ‘Oh, just for ducks.’ [HDAS].
[US]J. Steinbeck Grapes of Wrath (1951) 12: He just done it for ducks. He wasn’t puttin’ on no dog.
[US]E. Shepard Press Passes 219: They’re never happier than when pounding newsmen with their rifle butts, just for the ducks of it [HDAS].
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]

(US) to have one’s affairs in order .

E. Sevareid This Is Eric Sevareid 144: He liked to have all his ducks in a row before he moved.
[US]S. King Stand (1990) 635: I’ll bet he’s got the trains running on time and all his ducks in a row.
[US]S. King Christine 303: He had a call to make, but it might be better to finish thinking this through first — have all his ducks in a row.
C. Palahniuk Fight Club 138: Get all my ducks in a row. Update my resume. That sort of thing.
S. Grafton S Is for Silence 243: He likes to have all his ducks in a row before he takes the plunge.
[UK]K. Sampson Killing Pool 100: They won’t make their move until their ground team have given the nod that all the little duckies are lined up in a row.
like a duck on a June bug (adv.) (also ...a dough-pile)

(US) heavily, solidly; thus landed like a duck...

[US]World (N.Y.) 19 Aug. 2/1: Fore then sent a clinker to centre and landed on first like a duck on a dough-pile.
[US]W.N. Harben Abner Daniel 221: The feller that owns it ud jump at it like a duck on a June-bug.
[US]Kerouac On the Road (The Orig. Scroll) (2007) 309: He took Berthoud Pass like a duck on a June bug.

In exclamations