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 \
decoyed; decoying; decoys

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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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

And hide the dog, too Be mindful when using spinning-wing decoys. Shannon Tompkins, Houston Chronicle, "Concealment, patience key for hunters as waterfowl season ends," 17 Jan. 2018 Getty ImagesSamir Hussein Of course, there is the possibility that Villa Del Mare is a decoy destination—especially as Harry and Meghan have recently amped up their privacy attempts, but this definitely doesn't sound like a bad option. Lucy Wood, Marie Claire, "Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's New Sydney Home Is Breathtaking," 15 Aug. 2018 Erdogan said Tuesday that 15 Saudi officials arrived in Istanbul shortly before Khashoggi’s death and that a man, apparently dressed in the writer’s clothes, acted as a possible decoy by walking out of the consulate on the day of the disappearance. Aya Batrawy, The Seattle Times, "Saudi prince to address summit darkened by Khashoggi slaying," 24 Oct. 2018 These companies are combining satellite images with other tools that can identify suspicious movements, spot decoys and track ships making transfers of cargoes to other vessels. Benoit Faucon, WSJ, "Satellites, Big Data Help U.S. Spy on Smugglers of Iranian Oil," 1 Nov. 2018 This one began as a potential decoy in case the design of the main dress leaked to the press before the wedding. Caroline Picard, Good Housekeeping, "The Fascinating Story Behind Duplicate Royal Wedding Dresses," 20 Sep. 2018 Police conducted another 146 inspections without using decoys in 2017. David Garrick,, "San Diego sees decrease in stores selling tobacco, hookah lounges, vape shops," 11 July 2018 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

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

Noun and Verb

probably from Dutch de kooi, literally, the cage

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Statistics for decoy

Last Updated

6 Jan 2019

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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More from Merriam-Webster on decoy

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with decoy

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for decoy

Spanish Central: Translation of decoy

Nglish: Translation of decoy for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about decoy

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marked by shyness and lack of polish

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