DECOY, a contrivance for the capture or enticing of duck and other wild fowl within range of a gun, hence any trap or enticement into a place or situation of danger. Decoys are usually made on the following plan: long tunnels leading from the sea, channel or estuary into a pool or pond are covered with an arched net, which gradually narrows in width; the ducks are enticed into this by a tame trained bird, also known as a " decoy " or " decoy-duck." In America the " decoy " is an artificial bird, placed in the water as if it were feeding, which attracts the wild fowl within range of the concealed sportsman. The word " decoy " has, etymologically, a complicated history. It appears in English first in the 17th century in these senses as " coy " and " coy-duck," from the Dutch kooi, a word which is ultimately connected with Latin cavea, hollow place, " cage." * The de-, with which the word begins, is either a corruption of " duck-coy," the Dutch article de, or a corruption of the Dutch eende-kooi, eende, duck. The New English Dictionary points out that the word " decoy " is found in the particular sense of a sharper or swindler as a slang term slightly earlier than " coy " or " decoy " in the ordinary sense, and, as the name of a game of cards, as early as 1550, apparently with no connexion in meaning. It is suggested that " coy " may have been adapted to this word.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)