a person or thing that is powerless or in need of help – informal
In the mid 18th century, lame duck was used in a stock-market context, with reference to a person or company that could not fulfill their financial obligations. Later, from the mid 19th century, it was used specifically with reference to US politicians in the final period of office, after the election of their successor.
1998 - Spectator - At some point in his second and final term, every president becomes a lame duck as the man himself matters less, so does the office.
RELATED IDIOMS :
break your duck
score the first run of your innings – Cricket
make your first score or achieve a particular feat for the first time – British
duck and dive
use your ingenuity to deal with or evade a situation
1998 - New Scientist - You don't last for over 100 million years without some capacity to duck and dive.
fine weather for ducks
wet, rainy weather, humorous
get your ducks in a row = have your ducks in a row
get or have your facts straight
get or have everything organized - North American informal
1996 - Brew Your Own - You really want to have all your ducks in a row before the meeting.
like a dying duck in a thunderstorm
having a dejected or hopeless expression – Informal
The miserable demeanour of ducks during thunder has been proverbial since the late 18th century.
1933 - Agatha Christie - Lord Edgware Dies - You did look for all the world like a dying duck in a thunderstorm.
take to something like a duck to water
take to something very readily
1960 - C. Day Lewis - Buried Day - I had taken to vice like a duck to water, but it ran off me like water from a duck's back.
like water off a duck's back
a remark or incident which has no apparent effect on a person
play ducks and drakes with
This expression comes from the game of ducks and drakes, played by throwing a flat stone across the surface of water in such a way as to make it skim and skip before it finally sinks. The game was known by this name by the late 16th century and it was already a metaphor for an idle or frivolous activity in the early 17th century.