Lame duck


      • discourage someone
        Advise against engaging in a particular activity or task, cautioning that it will not result in any positive outcome or benefit

      • ineffective or powerless
        Describing a person or thing that is unable to achieve their goals or carry out their responsibilities

    Examples of Lame duck

    • The President's term is coming to an end, and as a result, he has become a lame duck. He is no longer in a position to push through significant legislation or make major policy changes.

      In politics, a lame duck is a President or other elected official who has served for a set term but has not yet left office. As the end of their term approaches, their power and influence begin to wane, making it difficult for them to effect significant change. This idiom comes from the image of a duck that is no longer able to fly because it has been injured or its feathers have been plucked, making it easier to catch and prepare for dinner. Used metaphorically, the term "lame duck" suggests that the individual in question has lost some of their effectiveness and is vulnerable to opposition or defeat.

    • The lame duck session of Congress has been characterized by partisan bickering and inaction, as both parties jockey for position ahead of the midterm elections.

      In politics, a lame duck session is a period of time when Congress meets after a Presidential election but before the new President takes office. During this time, lawmakers may try to pass legislation or address important issues, but they must contend with the fact that the President they are working with will soon leave office. This situation can lead to intense political maneuvering, as members of Congress seek to cement their legacies or score points ahead of the next election cycle. The idiom "lame duck session" emphasizes that this is a time of political weakness and uncertainty, when traditional sources of power and influence may be waning.

    • The company's CEO has announced that she will be stepping down next year, leaving her successor to grapple with some tough challenges as a lame duck.

      In business, the term "lame duck" can be used to describe a CEO or other high-ranking executive who is nearing the end of their tenure but has not yet left the company. During this time, the individual may be less effective at making important decisions or addressing pressing issues, particularly if they have become distracted by the process of finding a new job or preparing for retirement. The idiom "lame duck" suggests that there may be uncertainty or instability within the company during this period, as the outgoing executive navigates the transition to a new leader while still carrying out their duties.

    • The basketball team's star player has been dealing with some injuries lately, which has left him lame duck for the rest of the season.

      In sports, the term "lame duck" can be used to describe an injured player who is unable to perform at their best level due to a physical ailment. This situation can leave the team in a difficult position, as they may be forced to rely on less experienced or less talented players in the athlete's absence. The idiom "lame duck" highlights the fact that the injured player may be less effective or reliable on the field or court, which can affect the overall performance of the team and their chances of success.

    • After narrowly losing his re-election bid, Senator Smith became a lame duck in the Senate. His powers were greatly reduced, and many of his colleagues stopped listening to his suggestions.

      The phrase "lame duck" is used figuratively to describe a politician who has lost an election but still has some time left in office. During this time, the politician is considered to be less influential and less powerful than they were before the election loss. The term "lame duck" comes from the fact that during duck hunting season, ducks that have already mated and laid their eggs are no longer considered targets and are left alone. In politics, a lame duck is essentially no longer a "target" for support or influence.

    • In the final months of his lame duck tenure, President Johnson pushed through a number of key legislative initiatives, hoping to leave a lasting legacy before leaving office.

      In this example, "lame duck" is being used to describe a president who is near the end of his term and who is no longer actively campaigning for re-election. Presidents in this position may try to pass significant legislation during their remaining time in office, as they are more aware of the limited time they have left to make an impact.

    • The congressman's bill was passed easily, thanks in part to the support of the lame duck Speaker of the House, who hoped to burnish his legacy before leaving office.

      In this example, "lame duck" is being used to describe the Speaker of the House, who is nearing the end of his term and will soon be replaced by a new Speaker. The idea is that this Speaker, who is about to leave office, may be more willing to support legislation that he previously would have opposed, in order to leave a positive legacy behind.

    • The governor's leadership ability was called into question after he was soundly defeated in his re-election bid, leaving him as a lame duck in his final months in office.

      In this example, "lame duck" is being used to describe the governor's diminished power and authority in the aftermath of his re-election defeat. The term "lame duck" connotes a sense of weakness and lack of influence, and in this case, it is being used to describe a politician who has lost the support of the electorate and who will soon be replaced.


    The idiom "lame duck" can be used to caution someone against a certain action or to describe someone or something as ineffective or powerless.

    Origin of "Lame duck"

    The origin of the idiom "lame duck" dates back to the 18th century, where it was originally used to describe a stockbroker who defaulted on his debts. In the context of politics, the term was first used in the 19th century to refer to a politician who was nearing the end of their term and therefore unable to exert much influence. Over time, the term evolved to describe any person or thing that is unable to fulfill their obligations or achieve their goals. The use of "lame" to describe something as feeble or ineffective has roots in Old English, making the idiom's origin quite literal.