Where does the word “canard” come from and What does canard mean?

The French have an old saying, vendre un canard a moitie, literally, to half-sell a duck, for canard means “duck.”

But, so the explanation goes, one cannot half-sell anything, let alone a duck flying in the sky, and when one says that he has half-sold a duck, he is, of course, trying to make a fool of the person to whom he is talking.

Thus, more than three centuries ago, one who related false stories or circulated false reports became known, in France, as one who delivered ducks, or, that is, uttered canards.