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A dead ringer

刊登日期: 2018.06.15
作者: Grace Tse  

In both Cantonese and English, a phrase is commonly used to describe a close resemblance between two people, particularly between a child and his or her parents. While Cantonese-speaking people use “cake mould”(餅印), English-speaking people use “a dead ringer”. 

Anna is a dead ringer for her father. 

The idiom “a dead ringer” originated in the USA in the 19th century. In 1858, the word “ringer”(騙子)was an old slang word referring to a person who dishonestly replaced one thing, such as a horse or an athlete, for another in a competition. This definition of “ringer” is rare in English usage nowadays. 

A ringer was further extended to talk about a horse which was substituted for another of similar appearance so as to cheat the gamblers in horse race betting. 

In the late 19th century, when the idiom “a dead ringer” was first used to mean a person or a thing that looked similar to another, its negative “fraudulent” meaning had disappeared. The adjective “dead” has nothing to do with someone who is no longer living. Instead, it means “exactly”, as in “dead easy”(非常容易)and “dead right”(完全正確). 

Look! It is amazing that this young lady is a dead ringer for the famous film star. 

Despite different brands, my car is a dead ringer for his. 

Are you a dead ringer(酷似)for your father? On this Father’s Day, perhaps you may take a selfie with your father. You may find out that there are a lot of common features between both of you, whether they are a smile, eye brows or a nose. 

Glossary

Resemblance 

相似

Slang 

俚語

Substituted 

代替

Appearance 

外表

Cheat 

欺騙

Gamblers 

賭客

Fraudulent 

欺詐

Common features 

共同特徵

 

 

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