SHANE’S EXCELLENT NEW WORDS: Dupes, suckers, saps, useful idiots and a patsy for good measure.


It’s election year in New Albany, and the ward heelers have only just begin to dupe.

dupe (n.)

“One easily deceived or led astray by false representations,” 1680s, from French dupe “deceived person,” from duppe (early 15c.), thieves’ jargon, perhaps from phrase de huppe “of the hoopoe,” an extravagantly crested and reputedly stupid bird. For names of supposedly stupid birds applied to stupid persons, compare booby, goose (n.), gull (n.2).

It’s a dual purpose word, used as both a verb and a noun.

dupe (doop)

Word forms: dupes, duping, duped

1. transitive verb
If a person dupes you, they trick you into doing something or into believing something which is not true.

“A plot to dupe stamp collectors into buying fake rarities.”

2. countable noun
A dupe is someone who is tricked by someone else.

“He was accused of being a dupe of the communists.”

The list of synonyms for dupe as a noun contains some of my favorite words: victim, gull, pawn, butt, puppet, easy mark, instrument; fool, simpleton, innocent; sucker, fish, stooge, sitting duck, sitting target, soft touch, pushover, chump, muggins, charlie, fall guy; mug; pigeon, patsy, sap, schlemiel, mark; dill; and juggins.

A related concept is that of the useful idiot.

In political jargon, a useful idiot is a derogatory term for a person perceived as a propagandist for a cause, the goals of which he or she does not fully comprehend, and who is used cynically by the leaders of the cause. The term was originally used during the Cold War to describe non-communists regarded as susceptible to communist propaganda and manipulation. The term has often been attributed to Vladimir Lenin, but this attribution is unsubstantiated.

Are you a patsy for Dear Leader’s love?