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Wiktionary has a passage explaining (no citation) an origin to the use of the word canard as a means of diverting aggression from vulnerability:

Specifically, the term Canard refers to a tactic used by a parent duck to deceptively draw a predator away from its offspring or nest by quacking and feigning a broken wing

For canard, Dictionary.com offers "from French: a duck, hoax, from Old French caner to quack, of imitative origin". The passage on 'duck' (as a verb) is less explanatory and offers only the definition, however the Online Etymology Dictionary reads:

"to plunge into" (trans.), c.1300; to suddenly go under water (intrans.), mid-14c., from presumed O.E. *ducan "to duck," found only in derivative duce (n.) "duck" (but there are cognate words in other Germanic languages, cf. O.H.G. tuhhan "to dip," Ger. tauchen "to dive," O.Fris. duka, M.Du. duken "to dip, dive," Du. duiken), from P.Gmc. *dukjan. Sense of "bend, stoop quickly" is first recorded in English 1520s. Related: Ducked; ducking. The noun is attested from 1550s in the sense of "quick stoop;" meaning "a plunge, dip" is from 1843

So when it comes to 'ducking the truth' or posing a canard in an argument (or resorting to trickery, deception, lying), are these two words only related by coincidence or did something give rise to their linked usage?

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2 Answers 2

up vote 4 down vote accepted

According to a dictionary of Middle English originally published in 1891, the modern English noun duck originates from Middle English dūke, which is itself a derivation of the Middle English verb dūken, comparable in meaning to our modern verb duck.

The OED entry for canard suggests that the modern usage of canard in the sense of cheating or deception is derived from a more complex metaphor, and seems to have nothing to do with duck in the modern sense of the verb.

Taking these two very different etymologies into account, I would say that the similar usage is entirely coincidental.

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They appear to be pure coincidence. Similar to the fact that Thomas Crapper is known for his inventions related to the toilet. Taking a crap has nothing to do with Crapper's name. Although referring to a toilet as a crapper could be related to either (the word crap or then name Crapper).

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