de·coy | \ˈdē-ˌkȯi, di-ˈ \

Definition of decoy 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 hunting : a pond into which wildfowl are lured for capture

2 : someone or something used to lure or lead another into a trap the commander of that sub … took us to be a decoy— H. A. Chippendale especially, hunting : an artificial bird used to attract live birds within shot

3 : someone or something used to draw attention away from another had a decoy distract the guard


de·coy | \di-ˈkȯi, ˈdē-ˌ \

Definition of decoy (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb


: to lure by or as if by a decoy : entice decoying ducks to a pond The undercover cop decoyed the fugitive into a trap.

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Synonyms for decoy

Synonyms: Noun

bait, lure

Synonyms: Verb

allure, bait, beguile, betray, entice, lead on, lure, seduce, solicit, tempt

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Choose the Right Synonym for decoy


lure, entice, inveigle, decoy, tempt, seduce mean to lead astray from one's true course. lure implies a drawing into danger, evil, or difficulty through attracting and deceiving. lured naive investors with get-rich-quick schemes entice suggests drawing by artful or adroit means. advertising designed to entice new customers inveigle implies enticing by cajoling or flattering. fund-raisers inveigling wealthy alumni decoy implies a luring into entrapment by artifice. attempting to decoy the enemy into an ambush tempt implies the presenting of an attraction so strong that it overcomes the restraints of conscience or better judgment. tempted by the offer of money seduce implies a leading astray by persuasion or false promises. seduced by assurances of assistance

Examples of decoy in a Sentence


He had a decoy distract the guard while he jumped over the fence. we set the decoy afloat in the marsh and from the blind waited for the ducks to arrive


tacky souvenir shops to which first-time tourists had been decoyed into spending their hard-earned money
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Wilson doesn't have a lot of production on his resume but he was used mostly as a decoy in Kansas City. Steven Ruiz, USA TODAY, "Grading every major NFL free agent signing," 14 Mar. 2018 The male bird was lured to Mana Island five years ago by wildlife officials who, in hopes of establishing a gannet colony there, had placed concrete gannet decoys on cliffsides and broadcast the sound of the species' calls. The Washington Post,, "Nigel, world's loneliest bird, dies next to concrete decoy it loved," 3 Feb. 2018 This, my friends, is a decoy created by the Marthas — the show’s lowkey superheroes and clearly, the seat of Mayday., "The Handmaid's Tale Recap Season 2, Episode 13: The Martha Express," 11 July 2018 But decoys also must not draw attention with signs or signals. Nikita Stewart, New York Times, "Why New York Hires 200 People to Pretend They’re Homeless," 19 Jan. 2018 Messi just walking in midfield now, almost a decoy. Christopher Clarey, New York Times, "Messi Exits the World Cup. Hours Later, So Does Ronaldo.," 1 July 2018 And on weekends through the summer, the museum hosts decoy makers in a the shop out back - which once belonged to R. Madison Mitchell. Jim Webster,, "In Havre de Grace, Maryland, on the Chesapeake Bay, a rich maritime history - and ducks, lots of ducks," 27 June 2018 One of the decoy documents Kaspersky observed looks like a press release for the Spiez Convergence. Brian Barrett, WIRED, "The Olympic Destroyer Hackers May Have Returned For More," 19 June 2018 Investigators switched out the dangerous substance for a decoy, allowed the package to be delivered, and did round-the-clock surveillance to see who would pick it up. Kristina Davis,, "Fentanyl has taken over America's drug market. Where is it coming from?," 17 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Hunting - Guide Scott Clary said a low ceiling helped decoying action for snow geese. Bink Grimes, Houston Chronicle, "Outdoors report: Feb. 10," 9 Feb. 2018 Guide Matt Sbrusch of Prairie Waterfowl reported good decoying action for snows and Canadas in green fields near Lissie. Bink Grimes, Houston Chronicle, "Outdoors report: Jan. 14," 13 Jan. 2018 South winds have helped decoying action for geese lately. Bink Grimes, Houston Chronicle, "Outdoors report: Dec. 23," 22 Dec. 2017 Shooting decoying ducks or geese, the third shot can be useful for some but even then, the third shot is often just a prayer. Steve Meyer, Anchorage Daily News, "2 shots at a time: In praise of the classic over/under Browning shotgun," 13 Dec. 2017 There weren’t really decoys in other parts of the world at that time. Jennifer Billock, Smithsonian, "Where Duck Decoys Became High Art," 24 Apr. 2017 There weren’t really decoys in other parts of the world at that time. Jennifer Billock, Smithsonian, "Where Duck Decoys Became High Art," 24 Apr. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'decoy.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of decoy


1630, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1648, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for decoy


probably from Dutch de kooi, literally, the cage


see decoy entry 1

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Statistics for decoy

Last Updated

29 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for decoy

The first known use of decoy was in 1630

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More Definitions for decoy



English Language Learners Definition of decoy

: a wooden or plastic bird (such as a duck) that is used by hunters to attract live birds

: a person or thing that attracts people's attention so they will not notice someone or something else


de·coy | \di-ˈkȯi, ˈdē-ˌkȯi\

Kids Definition of decoy

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a person or thing (as an artificial bird) used to lead or lure into a trap or snare


decoyed; decoying

Kids Definition of decoy (Entry 2 of 2)

: to lure by or as if by a decoy Hunters decoyed the ducks to the pond.

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Comments on decoy

What made you want to look up decoy? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to reject or criticize sharply

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