Definition of dummy in English:


Syllabification: dum·my
Pronunciation: /ˈdəmē

noun (plural dummies)

  • 1A model or replica of a human being: a waxwork dummy
    More example sentences
    • It contains a massive array of war relics, collected from all round the world down the years, including authentic uniforms modelled by specially-made dummies in authentic uniforms.
    • One model included a dummy for history of lung cancer.
    • The estimation of the probit and logit models including industry dummies was conducted in three steps.
  • 1.1A figure used for displaying or fitting clothes: a tailor’s dummy
    More example sentences
    • Join the club - how many middle-aged people are there out there, I wonder, who still find it a bit scary looking at the tailor's dummies in a clothes shop window?
    • The collision wrecked the window display - including a dummy dressed as Elvis - and caused thousands of pounds of damage.
    • Along with the period costumes, and superhero outfits that he stocks there, the dresses are on display on dummies.
    mannequin, model, figure
  • 1.2A ventriloquist’s doll.
    More example sentences
    • I worry there is more evil in clowns than in any terrorist organization, and under no circumstances will I tolerate dolls, puppets, or ventriloquist dummies.
    • Then he blinks, once, a bit slowly, like a ventriloquist dummy.
    • At the very least, if they end up dropping this, keep at least Job and Franklin, the ventriloquist dummy because if they just spun off on their own, I would be so happy.
  • 1.3 Bridge The declarer’s partner, whose cards are exposed on the table after the opening lead and played by the declarer.
    More example sentences
    • Immediately after this opening lead, the dummy's cards are exposed.
    • The player on the left of the dummy hand plays the dummy's cards.
    • In Cowboy and Cowgirl the dummy can discard and draw in the same way as the players.
  • 1.4 Bridge The exposed hand of the declarer’s partner.
    More example sentences
    • Either way, the second dummy is then exposed and the play continues as in Double Dummy Bridge.
    • The Defender on the Declarer's left leads the card to the first trick, after which the cards in the dummy are exposed and sorted by suit.
    • Both dummies are then exposed on the table, opposite their owners, and play continues as in Bridge, each of the players playing cards from their own dummy at its turn.
  • 1.5An imaginary fourth player in whist: [as modifier]: dummy whist
    More example sentences
    • Playing with three players, the game uses a dummy hand for the fourth player.
    • This allows the dummy player to leave the table during the play of the hand.
    • If the dummy hand wins a portion of the pot, the player that it beats must match the pot just as if they were beaten by a player at the table.
  • 2Something designed to resemble and serve as a substitute for the real or usual thing; a counterfeit or sham: tests using stuffed owls and wooden dummies [as modifier]: a dummy torpedo dummy invoices and a dummy corporation, designed to underprice products
    More example sentences
    • For the next few minutes it took the place of a wooden dummy, receiving more than it's share of abuse.
    • Of course, NATO knows that we have these dummies, but cannot tell a dummy from a real rocket.
    • ‘We use their counter-top display that has one of their lights on a dummy gun,’ he said.
  • 2.1A prototype or mock-up, especially of a book or the layout of a page.
    More example sentences
    • The book dummies, storyboards, jacket covers, and double page spreads were proudly displayed, still smelling strongly of glue and fixatives.
    • Included here are selections from his finished prints, work prints, contact sheets, notes, notebooks, handmade photographic books, book dummies, and correspondence.
    • He knew how to turn my dummy into a book.
    mock-up, imitation, likeness, look-alike, representation, substitute, sample; replica, reproduction; counterfeit, sham, fake, forgery
    informal dupe
  • 2.2A blank round of ammunition.
    More example sentences
    • Before you make up a batch of reloads, make a dummy round first to ensure your die settings are correct and the round feeds and the bolt closes normally.
    • I really don't like this method since I have a horror of one of the dummy rounds getting mixed up with my hunting ammunition.
    • They consisted of launching full-scale missile dummies with a first stage propulsion system and a simplified command system.
  • 2.3 [as modifier] Grammar Denoting a word that has no semantic content but is used to maintain grammatical structure: a dummy subject, as in “it is” or “there are.”
    More example sentences
    • I think people don't use ‘it’ for exactly that reason Todd - it's so often an expletive or a dummy pronoun that it would get confusing.
    • This so-called ‘prop it’ is a dummy subject, serving merely to fill a structural need in English for a subject in a sentence.
  • 3 informal , chiefly North American A stupid person.
    More example sentences
    • But the devil with the horns was looked upon as a kind of fool's gold, taught to dummies too stupid to grasp the honest ideology of actual wrongdoing.
    • I don't know the guy, but he's not a dummy, believe me.
    • I don't care what anyone says, you cannot be a dummy if you have won the European Championship, even although he did it with top German players, but in Scotland there are no grey areas.

verb (dummies, dummying, dummied)

[with object] Back to top  
  • Create a prototype or mock-up of a book or page: officials dummied up a set of photos
    More example sentences
    • The amendments abolished or limited open sales at auction, made dummying more difficult, gave more generous terms for repayment, and subjected the whole process to close administrative surveillance.
    • I'll have our guy in dummy up some fresh shots of him with the actress.
    • The main one was that they were clearly fakes dummied up at a an outlet from somebody's laptop at 4 a.m.

Phrasal verbs

dummy up

North American informal Keep quiet; give no information.
More example sentences
  • The function of consciousness must be in part to dummy up and shape a coherence from all the competing, conflicting subsystems that processed experience.
  • They come out after closing hours, ‘dummying up’ when the security guard passes by on his rounds.
  • Of course, such synergistic bilge is commonplace, as is the tendency to dummy up on any topic that the parent company (or any of its advertisers) might want stifled.


late 16th century: from dumb + -y1. The original sense was 'a person who cannot speak', then 'an imaginary fourth player in whist' (mid 18th century), whence 'a substitute for the real thing' and 'a model of a human being' (mid 19th century).

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