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Carved ducks

Sunday, 25 November, 2012

Carved wooden ducks

In Cockney rhyming slang, the expression “to duck and dive” means “to skive”. Example: “Not going into work today, mate. I’m duckin’ and divin’”. Which brings us nicely to Old English, where dūce, meaning “diver”, is a derivative of the verb dūcan, to bend down low as if to get under something, because of the way many ducks feed. This word replaced the Old English ened/├Žnid “duck”, possibly to avoid confusion with other Old English words, like ende, meaning “end”. The Dutch eend and the German Ente show that other Germanic languages still have similar words for “duck”. By the way, a “duckling” is a baby duck and some people use “duck” for adult females and “drake” for adult males; others use “hen” and “drake”, respectively.

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