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Posted by ESC on April 04, 2003

In Reply to: Mug posted by TheFallen 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" ("

," 1961).

: Interesting. Over here in the UK, to "mug up" exclusively means to study hard at something. Looking at Patridge's explanation for "mug" meaning fool - "something into which one can pour anything" - the same explanation probably applies to "mug up". You're filling your head with knowledge.

: Oh, on a fractionally related point, I finally saw the CSI episode on British TV this week with "georges and stiffs" in it. Regular posters will recall the show's researchers asking a question here about these two terms.

CSI has made inquiries a couple of times. I've never seen the show.