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a sitting duck


Click below to listen to the phrase.

Choose the correct definition a, b or c.

a) an easy target

Well done ! That’s the right answer.

A sitting duck means that someone or something is easy to attack.

Its use is said to stem from World War II, when both the American and British military used it to describe someone easy to hit.

French translation

une cible facile

How NOT to translate : *un canard assis

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Examples in context

‘Are there too many CCTV cameras in Nottinghamshire ?

Campaigners who have successfully challenged the use of surveillance cameras elsewhere in the country say they are now turning their attention to Nottinghamshire.

A valuablkke crime prevention and detection resource or a surveillance tool of Orwellian menace ? The debate has continued ever since CCTV became widespread in the late 1980s and early 1990s and in its latest guise it concerns the automatic number place recognition (ANPR) devices.

These are installed in police cars so patrol teams get fast alerts to cars that have been stolen, or are untaxed or uninsured. Now static ANPR cameras are being mounted in open locations, and in increasing numbers. In three years, the total in Nottinghamshire has risen from 65 to 78.

Two further points. Nottinghamshire cannot be seen to be lagging behind neighbouring constabularies in the deployment of technology – otherwise criminals will see the county as a sitting duck.

The other thing is that because our police manpower has been stripped down it would be irresponsible to ignore the deterrent and detecting value of technology.’

Nottingham Post, 25 April 2016

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‘Is Uber’s rider database a sitting duck for hackers ?

Before #Ubergate recedes entirely from the news, let’s pause on one aspect of the story that hasn’t gotten much attention so far : the cybersecurity risk of collecting massive troves of private travel information in online databases.

Imagine for a second that your job is to gather intelligence on government officials in Washington, or financiers in London, or entrepreneurs in San Francisco. Imagine further that there existed a database that collected daily travel information on such people with GPS-quality precision– where they went, when they went there and who else went to those same places at the same times.

Wouldn’t that strike you as a hacking opportunity ?’

The Washington Post, 1 December 2014

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Everyday usage

We need to be more careful with our business plans. If we don’t take a more tactical approach, we’ll make ourselves a sitting duck for the competition.

They’re a sitting duck for people who may want to ruin their projects to get ahead.

b) a single lady

Sorry, wrong answer. Please try again.

c) an unachievable goal

Sorry, wrong answer. Please try again.


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