Dead Ringer

Meaning of Idiom ‘Dead Ringer’

A dead ringer is a person or thing that resembles another person or thing perfectly or almost perfectly; someone who looks very similar to another person; an exact or near exact likeness or duplicate. 1Jarvie, Gordon. Bloomsbury Dictionary of Idioms. London: Bloomsbury, 2009.,2Ammer, Christine. American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.,3McCarthy, Michael. Cambridge International Dictionary of Idioms. Cambridge University Press, 2002

Usage

Dead ringer is usually used in the full phrase “to be a dead ringer for someone.”

Examples Of Use

“That lawyer is a dead ringer for Robert Redford, right down to his hair color.”

“Has anyone ever told you that you’re a dead ringer for your aunt Julie when she was your age?”

“The police thought they had found my car but the identification numbers didn’t match. The car they found was a dead ringer for mine, though. It even had a dent in the same spot!”

Dead ringer idiom meaning

Origin

Used since the late 1800s. 4Ammer, Christine. American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.

Ringer has long been used to refer to something which “rings false” and was originally applied to a horse that was dishonestly substituted for another horse in a race. Today, the term is still used to refer to fakes or imposters, such as players substituted on teams who are not on the official roster or who shouldn’t be eligible to play but give an advantage to the team.

Dead is used as an intensifier in many expressions and here it is mean to mean precise or exact. 5Jarvie, Gordon. Bloomsbury Dictionary of Idioms. London: Bloomsbury, 2009.,6Bengelsdorf, Peter. Idioms in the News – 1,000 Phrases, Real Examples. N.p.: Amz Digital Services, 2012.

More Idioms Starting with D

More Dead Idioms

More Ring Idioms

 

Sources   [ + ]

1, 5. Jarvie, Gordon. Bloomsbury Dictionary of Idioms. London: Bloomsbury, 2009.
2, 4. Ammer, Christine. American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.
3. McCarthy, Michael. Cambridge International Dictionary of Idioms. Cambridge University Press, 2002
6. Bengelsdorf, Peter. Idioms in the News – 1,000 Phrases, Real Examples. N.p.: Amz Digital Services, 2012.