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"Mug" as fool, sucker

Posted by R. Berg on April 04, 2003

In Reply to: Mug, mug up posted by ESC on April 04, 2003

: : Any idea as to why "mug" means "fool", such as in "mug's game", and also as to what "mug" refers to in "mug up"?

: : Thanks in advance for any information.

: MUG - .2a. Orig. Underground & Carnival, a dupe, fool; sucker. 1857 "Ducange Anglicus" "Vulgar Tongue' 13: Mug, n. Dupe. "Who is the 'mug.'?." From "Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang, Volume 1 H-O" by J.E. Lighter, Random House, New York, 1994.

: The same reference has several entries for "mug up":

: Mug-up, noun. -- a snack or drink of coffee, a short respite for such a snack.
: Mug up -- to study hard.
: Mug up -- to drink one's fill of coffee.

Eric Partridge says "mug" in the sense of a fool, an easy dupe, probably comes from the idea "something into which one can pour anything" ("A Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English," 1961).