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Marcia Karp wrote:
>
>   > Dead ringer is an American usage, first citation 1891.  And it doesn't
> have anything to do with death or bells.
>

My wild guess -- it's a metaphor from the game of horseshoes. For those
unacquainted with that sport, it consists of throwing horseshoes at an
iron stake. The the thrower whose shoe is nearest to the stake gains the
point. A ringer is when the shoe hits the stake and "rings" it. The
'court' for it consisted of two iron stakes driven into the ground (at
varying distances from each other). Each contestant would have two
horseshoes, and would throw altenately. It's been sixty years since I
played it, so I don't remember, but very possibly if the toss was
perfect the sound would be a dull thunk when it hit the post at ground
level and stuck. A dead ringer would then be a perfect throw.?????

> Marcia