Etymology
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duck (n.2)

"strong, untwilled linen (later cotton) fabric," used for sails and sailors' clothing, 1630s, from Dutch doeck "linen cloth" (Middle Dutch doec), from Proto-Germanic *dōkaz, a word of uncertain etymology (source also of German Tuch "piece of cloth," Danish dug, Old Frisian dok, Old High German tuoh).

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sauce (v.)

mid-15c., "to season (food), add a sauce or relish to," from sauce (n.). By 1510s in the figurative sense of "intermix or accompany with what gives piquancy or relish." From 1862 as "to speak to impertinently, treat with impertinence." Related: Sauced; saucing.

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duck (n.1)

waterfowl, natatorial bird of the family Anatidae, Old English duce (found only in genitive ducan) "a duck," literally "a ducker," presumed to be from Old English *ducan "to duck, dive" (see duck (v.)). Replaced Old English ened as the name for the bird, this being from PIE *aneti-, the root of the "duck" noun in most Indo-European languages.

In the domestic state the females greatly exceed in number, hence duck serves at once as the name of the female and of the race, drake being a specific term of sex. [OED]

As a term of endearment, attested from 1580s (see ducky). duck-walk, a squatting waddle done by a person, in imitation of a duck, is by 1915; duck soup, slang for "anything easily done," is by 1899. Duck's ass haircut is from 1951. Ducks-and-drakes, skipping flat stones on water, is from 1580s; the figurative sense of "throwing something away recklessly" is c. 1600.

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duck (v.)

c. 1300, "to plunge into" (transitive); mid-14c., "to suddenly go under water and immediately withdraw" (intransitive); from a presumed Old English *ducan "to duck," found only in derivative duce (n.) "duck" (but there are cognate words in other Germanic languages, such as Old High German tuhhan "to dip," German tauchen "to dive," Old Frisian duka, Middle Dutch duken "to dip, dive," Dutch duiken), from Proto-Germanic *dukjanan.

The sense of "to lower or bend down suddenly, stoop quickly," as in dodging, is recorded by 1520s. Related: Ducked; ducking. The noun is attested from 1550s in the sense of "a quick stoop;" meaning "a plunge, a dip" is from 1843.

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sauce (n.)

mid-14c., "condiment for meat, fish, etc.; pickling liquid, brine," from Old French sauce, sausse, from Latin salsa "things salted, salt food," noun use of fem. singular or neuter plural of adjective salsus "salted," from past participle of Old Latin sallere "to salt," from sal (genitive salis) "salt" (from PIE root *sal- "salt").

From late 14c. as "a curative preparation, medicinal salt." Often in 15c.-17. sawce, salse; constant reimportation of the word in French cookery terms might have helped keep the older spelling. Also formerly applied broadly in provincial English and U.S. to condiments of any kind, especially garden vegetables or roots eaten with meat (1620s), also known as garden-sauce.

Figurative meaning "something which adds piquancy to words or actions" is recorded from c. 1500; the sense of "impertinence" is by 1835, but the connection of ideas in it is much older (see saucy, and compare sass). Slang meaning "liquor" is attested by 1940. Figurative phrases suggesting "subject to the same kind of usage" is by 1520s (serued with the same sauce).

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duck-billed (adj.)

"having a bill like a duck," 1800, originally of the platypus; see duck (n.1) + bill (n.2).

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lame duck (n.)

1761, "any disabled person or thing;" especially Stock Exchange slang for "defaulter."

A lame duck is a man who cannot pay his differences, and is said to waddle off. [Thomas Love Peacock, "Gryll Grange," 1861]

Sometimes also in naval use for "an old, slow ship." Modern sense of "public official serving out term after an election" is recorded by 1863, American English. The quote attributed to President Lincoln ("[A] senator or representative out of business is a sort of lame duck. He has to be provided for") is from an anecdote of 1878.

It is well known to everybody who knows anything of its history, that this court [Court of Claims] was made a sort of retreat for lame duck politicians that got wounded and had to retreat before the face of popular condemnation. That is just exactly what it was for, a safe retreat for lame ducks; and it was so filled up; (etc.) [Sen. John P. Hale, New Hampshire, Congressional Globe, Jan. 12, 1863, p.271]
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apple-sauce (n.)
also applesauce, by 1739, American English, from apple + sauce (n.). Slang meaning "nonsense" is attested from 1921 and was noted as a vogue word early 1920s. Mencken credits it to cartoonist T.A. ("Tad") Dorgan. DAS suggests the word was thus used because applesauce was cheap fare served in boardinghouses.
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bufflehead (n.)
small North American duck, 1858 (buffle-headed duck attested from 1831), from buffle (1510s), obsolete variant of buffalo (n.) + head (n.). So called for its large head; earlier the noun meant "stupid person" (1650s; compare buffle-headed "big-headed," also "foolish," 1650s).
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eider (n.)
type of duck, 1743, from German Eider or Dutch eider, both from Old Norse æþar, genitive of æþr "duck," according to Watkins from a North Germanic root *athi-, from Proto-Germanic *ethi-, from PIE "probable root" *eti- "eider duck."
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