You may never have recognized what an impact ducks have had on culture...

Ducks are deeply ingrained in our culture and language in ways you know and maybe don’t know. And nearly all of them have a positive connotation. Consider:  




“Ducks in a Row”

“Just Ducky”

“Water off a Duck’s Back” – so Zen.

“Duck Soup”

“Sitting Duck”

“Odd Duck”

* The word “dabbling,” meaning a person who takes an activity not very seriously, is originally a duck word. It’s this instinctive activity they do, usually in evening for mine, where they just barely graze the surface of the water nipping back & forth, so as to gather up any floating nutrients. I never knew that until I actually had ducks and was researching the behavior.

* “Ducking” comes directly from the way they bob their heads to greet each other. And when she’s looking for some action, a female duck will start bobbing her head at the male, and he will respond as well. They’ll do that for a bit, literally getting into synch with the up & down… and then he’ll jump on her.

* It seems to me the phrase “odd duck” is more an observation of their behavior of always following and doing what the other ducks in the flock are doing that moment.  The phrase often comes to mind with Wrong-Way – as you can tell by her name – who is continually the odd duck out and seems compelled to be different.  Which does make her the outcast. 

* As etymology goes, the phrase “duck soup” is a little confusing and impossible to separate legend from fact. This blog does a good job at it. In owning ducks, I came to believe that “duck soup” is more of a snarky reference to how fast they will turn any small body of water into a nasty stew of duck crap and mud…. And also, man, among the favorite treats for ducks is their own shit water… But, sure, it could also be a reference to their fattiness which easily makes a rich broth….

(Duck fat is the most incredible element for frying. It’s like the epitome of fried food – a crisp and clean texture with zero greasiness. Duck fried potatoes, which are so easy to do in the oven, are so good it will bring tears to your eyes. And certainly anyone familiar with the phrase “schmaltz with grebenes” knows of what I speak…)

* And how about the children’s game “Duck-Duck-Goose.” On the one hand there’s the peaceful, duck. Duck, duck, duck… until finally “goose!” which triggers a violent goose-like attack frenzy…

* * *

Have you ever noticed that chickens are viewed as universally creepy, in basically every culture. With their psycho eyes and their downturned, bitter beaks. Being compared to a chicken is never positive.

The classic scene of every third world environment – whether it’s Guatemala, Ghana or Georgia – is chickens scattering on dusty roads because the locals don’t bother to slow down for them. Chickens are so annoying that people don’t give a second thought to squishing one. Not ducks. Know why? Because the ducks are chilling in the pond or sleeping in the shade not in the road like idiots. The only cliché with ducks and roads is a trail of mama & ducklings, and everyone screeching to a halt.

Maybe it’s because ducks have a smile permanently etched on their face. They always look happy and make humans subconsciously happy too – the unavoidable anthropomorphization because obviously their beaks can’t change shape. Even a beheaded duck looks pretty pleased with their situation. 

Why did the duck cross the road?                                   

He didn’t! Only chickens are stupid enough to leave a comfortable home.

Chuck Berry duck walked.

Drunk white people who think they’re being wacky at weddings chicken dance.

Ducktails – Elvis & Fonzie

Chickenheads – You don’t want to know

“Chicken with its head cut off” vs. “water off a duck’s back”….

Overall – human culture says: ducks = yes; chickens = yikes.


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