What does the idiom "a sitting duck" mean?

Are you using the idiom a sitting duck but not sure about its meaning? Using idioms, which are important elements of spoken and written language, in the right place strengthens your language skills. Examine the meaning of the a sitting duck idiom and the situations in which it is used.

Meaning of "a sitting duck"


The idiom 'a sitting duck' is often used to refer to a person or situation in which one is vulnerable and unprotected. It implies that a person is an easy target for attack, criticism, or criticism and can be easily taken advantage of. This idiom is often used in a figurative sense rather than a literal sense to describe a situation in which an individual is not in control, and can be easily influenced or taken advantage of by another.


The expression 'a sitting duck' has its roots in the notion of hunting. Ducks are a staple prey for hunters, and the phrase is thought to have originated in the mid-1800s to describe a hunter's easy prey - a duck that has been sitting still, oblivious to its surroundings and likely to fall victim to the hunter. The phrase has since been used to refer to a person who is vulnerable and unprotected.


The phrase 'a sitting duck' can be used to refer to any type of person, situation, or object in a vulnerable and unprotected state. For example, it can be used to describe someone who is in a weak political position and is likely to be taken advantage of, or a person who is in a vulnerable emotional state and can be easily hurt. It is also used to describe situations in which one is exposed to danger, such as a soldier in an open field without protection.

Example Sentences

  • She was a sitting duck for her boss's criticism - he could say whatever he wanted and she had no ability to defend herself.
  • The small town was a sitting duck - it had no defense against the invading army.
  • He was a sitting duck in the poker game - he was inexperienced and had no idea what the other players were holding.
  • The company was a sitting duck for a hostile takeover from a larger competitor.
  • The economic downturn left many small businesses in a vulnerable position - they were sitting ducks for larger businesses to prey on.

The meanings of the words in the "a sitting duck" idiom

From Shakespeare to Social Media: The Evolution of English Idioms

English idioms have been around for centuries, with many originating from sources like literature, mythology, and everyday life. Shakespeare, for example, coined many phrases that are still used today, such as "break the ice" and "heart of gold." Over time, new idioms have emerged, with social media and popular culture providing rich sources of inspiration. For instance, the phrase "throwing shade" came into use in the 1990s thanks to ball culture, but has since been popularized by social media.


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