Definition of dummy in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /ˈdʌmi/

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, manikin, lifelike model, figure, lay figure
1.2A ventriloquist’s doll.
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.
2An object designed to resemble and serve as a substitute for the real or usual one: tests using stuffed owls and wooden dummies [as modifier]: a dummy torpedo
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.
2.1British A rubber or plastic teat for a baby to suck on.
Example sentences
  • The slightly horrified look on my face changed to one of relief when she added that recent research showed that there was less likelihood of cot death if the baby had a dummy.
  • Family members visited and brought toys but she was confined to an isolation unit with her dummy to suck for comfort.
  • However, it appeared that posterior cross bite was significantly more common in children who were bottle-fed, as well as those who sucked dummies or their thumbs.
2.2A prototype or mock-up, especially of a book or the layout of a page.
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, lookalike, representation, substitute, sample, copy, replica, reproduction;
counterfeit, sham, fake, forgery
informal dupe
2.3A blank round of ammunition.
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.
2.4 [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(Chiefly in rugby and soccer) a feigned pass or kick intended to deceive an opponent.
Example sentences
  • Connoisseurs of back flip passes, outrageous dummies and champagne rugby in general would have loved this hugely entertaining romp.
  • He'd mesmerised the home defence with a beautiful dummy before picking up a short pass and slotting the ball past the helpless Roy Carroll.
  • In Rugby, you can pull a dummy, kick the ball up and under, or a grubber kick, or a long sideline punt.
4 informal, chiefly North American A stupid person.
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.
5 Bridge The declarer’s partner, whose cards are exposed on the table after the opening lead and played by the declarer.
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.
5.1 Bridge The exposed hand of the declarer’s partner.
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.
5.2An 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.

verb (dummies, dummying, dummied)

[no object]
(Chiefly in rugby and soccer) feign a pass or kick in order to deceive an opponent: Blanco dummied past a static defence
More example sentences
  • As he ran with the ball, the Olympiakos defence backed off and backed off until he dummied, tried a shot himself and blasted it over the bar.
  • But he dummied past the first defender, danced round another and cut straight through the middle to the line where he was brought down just short only for his momentum to carry him over.
  • Time and again he won possession inside the mid-field area, shimmied, dummied and generally toyed with his opponents before threading delightful passes to his team mates.


sell someone a dummy

(Chiefly in rugby and soccer) deceive an opponent by feigning a pass or kick.
Example sentences
  • The Wallabies duly manufactured another excellent try when Larkham's cut-out pass found Roff, who sold Cohen a dummy and sent Rathbone in for his second.
  • The next thing he knew, Brazil's second goofy forward had dashed off, sold Ashley Cole a dummy, slipped a pass to Rivaldo that cut out both Rio and Sol, and helped put his team on top.
  • Al Shahrani is sold a dummy by Harte and the Irishman gets kicked on the ankle for his troubles.

Phrasal verbs

dummy up

North American informal Keep quiet; give no information.
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).

Words that rhyme with dummy

Brummie, chummy, crumby, crummy, gummy, lumme, mummy, plummy, rummy, scrummy, scummy, slummy, tummy, yummy

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: dummy

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.