A dead ringer is a person or thing that resembles an original to such an extreme amount that it is hard to tell the original and the dead ringer apart. Dead ringer is derived from the 1891 horse racing term, a ringer, which is a fast horse that has been substituted into a race to replace a slow one, often with a fraudulent name and pedigree, a ploy intended to throw off the racing odds. The dead in dead ringer means exact, precise. Dead ringer was not derived from the practice of supplying bells in coffins, in case of premature burial. That is a fiction that was propagated by an email spread worldwide in 1999, the email was called “Life in the 1500s”. The plural form of dead ringer is dead ringers.
Olly Murs snogs blonde who’s a dead ringer for Caroline Flack hours after X Factor final (The Sun)
Acclaimed actress Rachel Weisz was a dead ringer for Eddie Redmayne’s character in The Danish Girl when she stepped out in Surrey on Saturday afternoon. (The Daily Mail)
The Hollywood actress looked unrecognisable as she transformed into a homeless man, looking like a dead ringer for the soap character when he was living on the streets in a 2012 storyline. (The Huffington Post)
We also recognize the jolly St. Nick, who’s a dead ringer for Milton selectman John Bartlett. (The Milton INdependent)
Ali (Gaby Hoffmann) is hot for a poet and gender’s studies professor named Leslie, a radical feminist played by Cherry Jones (who is a dead ringer for real-life poet Eileen Myles, the current girlfriend of show creator Jill Soloway). (OUT Magazine)