Dead Ringer

Meanings of “Dead Ringer”

The phrase “dead ringer” means an exact duplicate/copy of something. The phrase can also be used as a replacement for doppelganger when two people are not twins and yet have similar features.

Origin of “Dead Ringer”

The phrase “dead ringer” is originated from horse racing for replacing horses to defraud people. The phrase, however, first appeared in Manitoba Free Press in its October 1882 publication. The phrase in the paper goes thus: “A horse that is taken through the country and trotted under a false name and pedigree is called a ‘ringer.” Later, it also appeared in Oshkosh Weekly Times in June 1888 where it goes as “Dat’s a dead ringer fo me” in colloquial language.

Examples in Literature

Example #1

Dead Ringer! by Wayne Stubbs

“Get me out
I’m not
Heaven bound
In this church
Ready for flames
I wasn’t black cinders
I was but, a dead ringer!”

The poet presents himself as a dead ringer, saying that perhaps racial prejudice has made him look as if he does not want to die just yet. His argument is that he was a dead ringer, or an exact copy of the person and not that person. The religious tone from the use of Heaven has made this poem a spiritual experience. The phrase used in the last line is a good denotation.

Example #2

Dead Ringer by Lisa Ampleman

“Selfishly, I think:
miss me. See my
shade in one of our
old haunts. She’ll see
right through you:
masquerade knight
feigning he’s set down
his lance and chest plate.”

The girl in these lines asks her lover whether it is his doppelganger, or he is himself in the hotel. Then she says that she thinks that she is selfish and expresses her love for him, saying that she misses him much. She even asks her lover to talk to her shade who would be her dead ringer instead of her. The phrase, though, has not been used within the poem is clear from the title that it has been used as a metaphor through this poetic tale of the poet.

Example #3

Dead Ringer by The Stranglers

Haven’t I seen you somewhere around before?
Haven’t I seen you somewhere around before?

Bet you’re a dead ringer
Bet you’re a dead ringer
Bet you’re a dead ringer
Bet you’re a conkeroonee stringer

Wasn’t it you said you was into changing the law?
Wasn’t it you said you was into changing the law?

Wasn’t it you running around proud of being poor?

These lines pose questions to the interlocutor in quick succession with quick answers to the same questions. It seems the speaker is posing rhetorical questions and answering them himself, saying that he knows that he is a dead ringer. The quick succession of both questions and answers becomes a refrain for the band to make it a superhit lyric. The phrase has been used as a repetition.

Example #4

Dead Ringer by Annelise Ryan

The story revolves around Mattie and Seven Halley and their joint family, as they are living happily with their son and Emily. Working as a medical examiner, Mattie comes across the dead body of Jane Doe, an addict, who seems to have been killed in a manner as if somebody is the doppelganger of a convicted serial killer serving a prison sentence. This looks like a copycat crime but they are to find the murder. That is why the story has been titled Dead Ringer, showing its metaphorical representation through this criminal act.

Example in Sentences

Example #1: “I often go to my friends where we all gather to see “Red Balloon” and enjoy the evening. However, the best fun occurs when others tell me silently that I am a dead ringer of my friend Sebastion and that most of them do not think there is any difference between us.”

Example #2: “Whenever I looked at Liz, I was always reminded of her elder sister, Mary. She was like a dead ringer and that greatly pained me.”

Example #3: “My brother was a dead ringer in my life. His starking resemblance to my father always reminded me of my torturous childhood days.”

Example #4: “Most of the dead ringers are not like animals that they are unrecognizable. You can recognize them fairly easily when you see them on a daily basis.”

Example #5: “Both the clowns looked like dead ringers to each other. They almost no difference in their physical appearance. It felt like they were carbon copies.