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

Examples of decoy in a Sentence

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
Leen, the owner of Australia’s other mud boat, was the unfortunate host of the two kayakers who left our decoys in search of his. Natalie Krebs, Outdoor Life, 19 June 2024 Investigators later found a shotgun shell, a stake to secure the decoy, a turkey call striker and several small puddles of blood. David Matthews, New York Daily News, 18 Mar. 2024
Lesser and greater scaup both decoy extremely well and, if shown care in preparation, can rival some puddlers on the table. M.d. Johnson, Field & Stream, 8 Feb. 2024 Hunting Methods Though both fulvous and black-bellies will decoy into spreads and respond to calling, most whistling ducks are taken incidentally via pass shooting. M.d. Johnson, Field & Stream, 10 Jan. 2024 See all Example Sentences for decoy 

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 13 Jul. 2024.

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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