In Reply to: If it looks like a duck... posted by ESC on October 01, 2008 at 22:10:
: : I'm confused about the origin of the duck test: "If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it might just be a duck."
: : Some websites attribute this to Walter Reuther, the US labor leader who lived from 1907-1970, while others attribute it to James W. Riley, a writer who lived from 1849-1916.
: : Could anyone sort this out, please?
: If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it's a duck. According to one reference, William Safire, in the New York Times Magazine in 1992, attributed it to Walter Reuther, who was explaining how to identify communists. But the reference also says the phrases has been attributed to Sen. Joseph R. McCarthy (1908-1957). "Random House Dictionary of Popular Proverbs and Sayings" by Gregory Y. Titelman (Random House, New York, 1996). Page 155.
A second reference says it is attributed to Reuther and was used "as a test, during the McCarthy era, of Communist affiliations." The phrase here has a slightly different ending: "...then it just may be a duck." "Oxford Dictionary of Quotations," Fifth Edition, edited by Elizabeth Knowles (Oxford University Press, Oxford and New York, 2001). Page 625.