Wordsmith.org: the magic of words


About | Media | Search | Contact  


Today's Word

Yesterday's Word



Jul 21, 2004
This week's theme
Animal terms

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

Give a gift that ...
keeps on giving,
all year long:
A gift subscription of AWAD or give the gift of books
with Anu Garg

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.


Never vote for the best candidate, vote for the one who will do the least harm. -Frank Dane

We need your help

Help us continue to spread the magic of words to readers everywhere


Subscriber Services
Awards | Stats | Links | Privacy Policy
Contribute | Advertise

© 1994-2022 Wordsmith