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So when Mr. Trump ducked out to dinner Tuesday night without informing the journalists assigned to cover him, it struck White House reporters as a small but significant omen that cordial relations between the president and his press corps, a hallmark of the West Wing, were under threat.

Ritual of Ever-Present Coverage May Not Pass Muster With Trump

I have trouble understanding this. COBUILD Advanced English Dictionary. Copyright © Harper Collins Publishers says that if you duck out of something that you are supposed to do, you avoid doing it.

George ducked out of his forced marriage to a cousin.

And The Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus lists this example:

You can't duck out of your responsibilities.

However, I don't think the meaning of the verb as used in by the NY Times is the same. Is there some other meaning that's not in the dictionaries?

  • He didn't go to the dinner he was supposed to, he avoided it ...why dosn't duck out fit? – user66974 Nov 17 '16 at 13:39
  • Maybe because all the examples in the dictionaries say that you duck out of something. And here Trump ducked out to do something. In addition, the same sentence states that Trump went out "without informing the journalists assigned to cover him." Isn't this repetition? – VaVa Nov 17 '16 at 13:45
  • He didn't go to the dinner but he didn't inform journalists who were waiting for him.... – user66974 Nov 17 '16 at 13:47
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    The dictionaries do seem to be missing one sense of this idiom - that of a momentary hiatus, as opposed to something like ducking out your wedding. I can duck out of a meeting for ten minutes to meet an important guest, then rejoin the meeting. It means to leave in a non-disruptive manner, not a sneaky manner. – Phil Sweet Nov 17 '16 at 14:27
  • Phil is right. This sense of the term has been in use decades at least. "Ducking out of a meeting" doesn't mean blowing it off, it means leaving with minimal disruption. – The Nate Nov 17 '16 at 18:10
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The reason this works is because ducked out here means snuck out:

So when Mr. Trump snuck out to dinner Tuesday night without informing the journalists assigned to cover him. . . .

Both convey eluding some obligation, responsibility, or constraint.

The OED lists these pertinent subsenses for the verb duck:

2b. To back out, withdraw, make off, abscond; default. (orig. U.S.).

2c. trans. to get away from, to avoid, dodge (a person or thing). colloq. (orig. U.S.).

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    Yeah, I'm thinking the same thing essentially. Would you mind corroborating this answer, perhaps with the idioms dictionary of your choice? – Tonepoet Nov 17 '16 at 13:56
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    But ducked is a little less, um, sneaky, than snuck. A President (electee) just doesn't go sneaking about. It's unpresidential. That he went to a dinner is irrelevant - the point is that the press had expected to be in attendance, but were apparently ditched. They'll get over it. Clearly, this usage does not involve obligation so much as expectation or wishful thinking. – Phil Sweet Nov 17 '16 at 14:15
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    From Tonepoet's link, slip away is mentioned and feels more fitting to the situation (and to PhilSweet's comment) – Irhala Nov 17 '16 at 14:24

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