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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.]

"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.

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

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