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Jul 21, 2004
This week's theme
Animal terms

This week's words
running dog
Kilkenny cats
stool pigeon
charley horse
guinea pig

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stool pigeon

Pronunciation RealAudio

stool pigeon (stool PIJ-uhn) noun

1. A person who works as a decoy or informer, especially for the police.

2. A pigeon used as a decoy.

[Of uncertain origin: apparently from the former practice of tying decoy pigeons to a stool; possibly from French estale or estal which referred to a pigeon used to entice a hawk into a net.]

See more usage examples of stool pigeon in Vocabulary.com's dictionary.

"But (David Cooper) Nelson refused to identify the mysterious third party, saying, 'I'm no stool pigeon. I'd rather die than tell on the other fellow, a nice guy with a wonderful family.'"
Richard Melzer; First Man to Die in State's Gas Chamber Was Convicted by Valencia County Jury; The News-Bulletin (Belen, New Mexico); Jun 18, 2004.

"It's the onerous duty of this group to assess a stool pigeon's credibility, and then decide 'if it's in the public interest' to have that person testify."
Nick Pron; Should Authorities Listen to the Jailhouse Talk?; The Toronto Star (Canada); Jun 2, 2002.

This week's theme: expressions derived from pet animals.

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