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I steal this phrase from a comment on Meta Stack Overflow:

yep, I think I've broken my duck or so to speak :) – Kev♦ 51 mins ago

The context is one of having been basically broken into a particular fold, or going through a rite of passage - Kev has symbolically become a true moderator because he has gotten a Meta thread about his actions.

But the phrase is... unusual, to be soft about it. You don't break open ducks, or really most animals at all you don't break. Is this a common idiom? If so, what in hejudas inspired such a phrasing?

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2 Answers 2

up vote 14 down vote accepted

This might help, it's a fairly common'ish phrase in the UK.

In summary it's a cricket related term. In cricket a "Duck" is where a player has been dismissed from play without scoring a point. "Breaking one's duck" is the occasion where a you break a run of ducks.

breaking your duck - boards.ie

Outside of cricket the term is often used to describe having done something for the first time.

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A good answer should stand on its own. Can you summarize the relevant portion of the linked post? –  mmyers May 24 '11 at 18:49
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Link rot happens. Please post a summary of the information found at your link, in case it goes the way of all things. Thanks! –  Marthaª May 24 '11 at 18:51
    
@mmyers: Jinx!! –  Marthaª May 24 '11 at 18:51
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@Kev - surely the batsman "breaks his duck" as soon as he scores the first run in this game (or possibly innings) rather than a first run after a series of games where he scores a duck? (A minor point I know!) –  AAT May 28 '11 at 22:52
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@Mitch - I've already explained what a Duck is, there is no need for me to explain why it's called a duck because that is not what the question was about. What next, explain why Cricket is called cricket or what a run is and why it's called that? Feel free to edit this into my answer if it makes you happier. –  Kev Feb 2 '12 at 16:22

To break one's duck means the person has done something for the first time. The phrase comes not from duck as an animal, but from a duck in cricket, which is a batsman's dismissal for a score of zero. Therefore, when one breaks his duck, they score the first point.

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