1 of 2


hunting : a pond into which wildfowl are lured for capture
: someone or something used to lure or lead another into a trap
the commander of that sub … took us to be a decoyH. A. Chippendale
especially, hunting : an artificial bird used to attract live birds within shot
: someone or something used to draw attention away from another
had a decoy distract the guard


2 of 2


decoyed; decoying; decoys

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.
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

Example Sentences

Noun 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 Verb tacky souvenir shops to which first-time tourists had been decoyed into spending their hard-earned money
Recent Examples on the Web
The decoys are released at high altitude and intended to look like incoming missiles. Popular Mechanics, 17 May 2023 Now, officials believe more than one vessel might have been involved and wonder whether the 50-foot sailing yacht that investigators scoured for clues could be a decoy, The Post reports. Dan Lamothe, Washington Post, 4 Apr. 2023 The decoys each come with a two-piece plastic stake for placement. Nancy Jo Adams, Popular Mechanics, 11 May 2023 The tribe seems pretty set on voting Josh out and are telling him Carolyn as the decoy vote. Erica Thompson, The Enquirer, 23 Mar. 2023 The goal of the decoy missiles, Podolyak said, is to overwhelm Ukraine’s air defense systems by offering too many targets. John Leicester And Hanna Arhirova,, 16 Feb. 2023 Lurking in the background were about 100 F.B.I. agents idling on motorcycles, in trucks, in a van, on at least one helicopter and in at least two decoy taxis. New York Times, 12 Aug. 2021 Henley sat down on a log behind their decoy. Carol Robinson |, al, 19 Apr. 2022 He’s been in cahoots with General Zlatan the whole time, as Kaz suspected, which is why Dirtyhands knowingly sent him after the decoy: expose the traitor and tie up the guards’ security bandwidth, all in one. Devon Maloney, Vulture, 24 Apr. 2021
Melendez had said retailers themselves often are not cited when decoy operations catch clerks selling tobacco to customers younger than 21. San Diego Union-Tribune, 3 Mar. 2023 The Gobbstopper combo consists of a jake decoy in quarter strut and a submissive hen decoy in breeding position. Outdoor Life, 11 Mar. 2021 Beckham’s biggest contributions in Sunday’s loss came when the football wasn’t coming his way, working as a run blocker and decoy on many of his 58 snaps. Tim Bielik, cleveland, 17 Oct. 2021 As previously reported by Forbes, the U.S Navy is looking at ultra-short laser pulses which create glowing plasma in mid-air to decoy missiles away from aircraft. David Hambling, Forbes, 6 July 2021 Pilkington says that the military may test new spoofing or decoy techniques on unsuspecting pilots. David Hambling, Forbes, 25 June 2021 As part of the effort, GA-ASI integrated the Brite Cloud decoy with the Reaper. David Hambling, Forbes, 26 May 2021 The Whisperers catch on to the music decoy and destroy the sound system, forcing the survivors to kill the Whisperers one by one — the finale to the war season 10 was building up to. Ashley Chervinski,, 28 Feb. 2021 The best way to kill these birds cleanly is to decoy them close and shoot them in the head. Phil Bourjaily, Field & Stream, 20 Jan. 2021 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'decoy.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Noun and Verb

probably from Dutch de kooi, literally, the cage

First Known Use


1630, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1648, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of decoy was in 1630

Dictionary Entries Near decoy

Cite this Entry

“Decoy.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Jun. 2023.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 noun
: something intended to lure into a trap
especially : an artificial bird used to attract live birds within shooting range
: a person used to lead another into a trap


2 of 2 verb
: to attract by or as if by a decoy : entice

More from Merriam-Webster on decoy

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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