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See also: Sucker



Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English souker, sokere, sukkere, soukere, equivalent to suck (verb) +‎ -er. Compare Saterland Frisian Suuger, West Frisian sûker (sucker), Dutch zuiger (sucker), German Sauger (dummy; vacuum).


sucker (plural suckers)

  1. A person or animal that sucks, especially a breast or udder; especially a suckling animal, young mammal before it is weaned. [from late 14th century]
  2. (horticulture) An undesired stem growing out of the roots or lower trunk of a shrub or tree, especially from the rootstock of a grafted plant or tree. [from 1570s]
  3. (by extension) A parasite; a sponger.
    Synonyms: see Thesaurus:scrounger
    • 1642, Thomas Fuller, The Holy State and the Prophane State:
      They who constantly converse with men far above their estates shall reap shame and loss thereby; if thou payest nothing, they will count thee a sucker, no branch.
    • 1841, Elbridge Gerry [Dow, Jr.] Paige, Short Patent Sermons, revised and corrected edition, New York: Lawrence Labree, page 232:
      Of the scaly tribe, I may mention those suckers belonging to the body loaferish, that never rise to the surface of respectability, but are always groveling in the mud of corruption, whose sole study appears to be to see how much they can get without the least physical exertion; and who would rather ride to hell in a hand-cart than walk to heaven supported by the staff of industry.
  4. An organ or body part that does the sucking; especially a round structure on the bodies of some insects, frogs, and octopuses that allows them to stick to surfaces.
  5. A thing that works by sucking something.
  6. The embolus, or bucket, of a pump; also, the valve of a pump basket.
    • 1725, Robert Boyle, The Philosophical Works, page 687:
      The last Mr. Hobbs’s principal explanations, is of the experiment wherein above 100 pound weight, being hung at the depress’d sucker, the sucker was, notwithstanding, impell’d up again, by the air, to the top of the cylinder.
  7. A pipe through which anything is drawn.
  8. A small piece of leather, usually round, having a string attached to the center, which, when saturated with water and pressed upon a stone or other body having a smooth surface, adheres, by reason of the atmospheric pressure, with such force as to enable a considerable weight to be thus lifted by the string; formerly used by children as a plaything.
  9. (Britain, colloquial) A suction cup.
  10. An animal such as the octopus and remora, which adhere to other bodies with such organs.
  11. (ichthyology) Any fish in the family Catostomidae of North America and eastern Asia, which have mouths modified into downward-pointing, suckerlike structures for feeding in bottom sediments. [from 1750s]
  12. (US, informal) A lollipop; a piece of candy which is sucked. [from 1820s]
  13. (slang, archaic) A hard drinker.
    Synonyms: soaker, suck-pint; see also Thesaurus:drunkard
  14. (US, obsolete) An inhabitant of Illinois.
    Synonym: Illinoisian
    • 1848, Francis Alexander Durivage, George P. Burnham, “How the Wolverine Discovered the Lead Mine—A Fact”, in Stray Subjects, Arrested And Bound Over, page 79:
      There is a swarm of 'suckers,' 'hoosiers,' 'buckeyes,' 'corn-crackers,' and 'wolverines,' eternally on the qui vive, in those parts—a migratory race of bipeds—who float about from spot to spot, 'squatting,' for the nonce, wherever their fancy or interest may incline them; and a rougher set of men will rarely be met with, saving the genuine 'voyageurs,' or 'trappers'—so notorious for their hardihood.
    • 1854 October 19, New York Tribune:
      A band of music was sent thirty miles to wake up the sleepy suckers, and draw them, by the magic of their music, to the Douglas gathering at Quincy, Illinois.
  15. (US, obsolete) A migrant lead miner working in the Driftless Area of northwest Illinois, southwest Wisconsin, and northeast Iowa, working in summer and leaving for winter, so named because of the similarity to the migratory patterns of the North American Catostomidae.
  16. (US, slang) A person who is easily deceived, tricked or persuaded to do something; a naive or gullible person. [from 1830s]
    Synonyms: chump, fall guy, fish, fool, gull, mark, mug, patsy, rube, schlemiel, soft touch; see also Thesaurus:dupe
    One poor sucker had actually given her his life’s savings.
    • 1728, Allan Ramsay, “The General Mistake”, in The Poems of Allan Ramsay[1], new edition, volume 1, published 1800, page 352:
      This ſucker thinks nane wiſe. / But him that can to immenſe riches riſe:
    • 1859, Oliver Stanley, “The Escape from the Whale”, in Hardin E. Taliaferro, editor, Fisher's River (North Carolina): Scenes and Characters, page 126:
      They had sorcerized me, and I were a done-over sucker; so I jist gin up. No sooner had we ’rove at the boat, instead o’ feastin’ me on gully-whompin oysters, they nabbed me quick as a snappin’ turtle
    • 1887, George Devol, Forty Years a Gambler on the Mississippi, page 221:
      “George, them fellows took me for a sucker. Do I look like a sucker?” ¶ “No, Bill; you look like a nice, smart counter-hopper,” I replied.
    • 1925 July – 1926 May, A[rthur] Conan Doyle, “(please specify the chapter number)”, in The Land of Mist (eBook no. 0601351h.html), Australia: Project Gutenberg Australia, published April 2019:
      Then he burst into a stream of horrible profanity. "What's the game?" he cried, glaring round him. "Do you think I am easy and that you can play me for a sucker? Is it a frame-up, or what?
    • 1934, Dashiell Hammett, chapter 13, in The Thin Man[2], New York: Vintage, published 1972, page 59:
      “After twenty years you’re still a sucker for her lies? []
  17. (informal) A person irresistibly attracted by something specified.
    I'm a sucker for ghost stories.
    He must be a sucker for punishment to try to climb that mountain barefoot.
    • 2009 September 1, Lenka, Tawgs Salter (lyrics and music), “Trouble Is a Friend”, in Lenka[3], performed by Lenka:
      So don't be alarmed if he takes you by the arm / I won't let him win, but I'm a sucker for his charm / Trouble is a friend, yeah, trouble is a friend of mine, oh oh!
    • 2015, Clutch, Sucker for the Witch
      Oh, I begged and I pleaded like a fiend for a fix / I must unburden my guilty conscience / I admit it, I'm a sucker for the witch
  18. (obsolete, vulgar, British slang) The penis.
    Synonyms: see Thesaurus:penis
    • 1750, “Ge ho, Dobbin or the Waggoner”, in The Tulip, page 2:
      Thus to and again to our paſtime we went, / And my Cards I play'd fairly to Jenny's content; / I work'd at her Pump till my Sucker grew dry, / Then I left pumping, a good Reaſon why.
Derived terms[edit]


sucker (third-person singular simple present suckers, present participle suckering, simple past and past participle suckered)

  1. (horticulture, transitive) To strip the suckers or shoots from; to deprive of suckers.
    to sucker maize
    • 1881, F. R. Diffenderffer, “Tobacco Culture”, in Agriculture of Pennsylvania, volume 5, page 91:
      It is as important to sucker tobacco carefully and as often as the situation demands it as it is to search for and remove the green-horn worm.
  2. (horticulture, intransitive) To produce suckers; to throw up additional stems or shoots.
    • 1880, Samuel Thorton Kemeys Prime, The Model Farms and Their Methods, page 423:
      I have let my vines sucker more than I ought this year, perhaps, but I want to start them out in better shape by encouraging a large growth of wood.
    • 1892, Washington Agricultural Experiment Station, “Tests of vegetables in the experiment station garden”, in Bulletin, number 57, page 45:
      We prefer to plant in rows instead of hills because the plants sucker so badly here, and because, with our scanty rainfall, it is better to have the plants isolated than bunched.
  3. (intransitive) To move or attach oneself by means of suckers.
    • 1961, Olympia, numbers 1-4, page 83:
      I am now the octopus, mucus, held together by soft moist membrane, suckering everywhere.
    • 2017, Elizabeth Hand, Bradford Morrow, Other Aliens:
      He paused at the octopus tank. Clyde, our resident giant Pacific octopus, was suckering his way across the front panel.
    • 2018, TW Neal, Freckled: A Memoir of Growing up Wild in Hawaii:
      I hold the octopus around the middle, suckering and so heavy, trying to crawl down my belly and legs to get away. I run to shore, trying to keep the tentacles off me, but it's too big and strong.
  4. (transitive, informal) To fool someone; to take advantage of someone.
    The salesman suckered him into signing an expensive maintenance contract.
    • 1963, Sewell Thomas, Yaquí Gold, page 170:
      I asked him to tell me specifically just what his gripe might be, but he told me never mind what the details are; that he had put his faith in you on my recommendation but that you had suckered him and he refused to tell me anything about how you suckered him.
  5. (transitive, informal, usually with into) To lure someone.
    • 2019 February 27, Drachinifel, 24:22 from the start, in The Battle of Samar - Odds? What are those?[4], archived from the original on 3 November 2022:
      As the escort carriers chug away south, their single 5-inch rear guns are now cleared to open fire as the range closes. Disappointed gunners on other weapons are informed, "Just wait a little longer, boys; we're suckering them into 40-mm range."

Etymology 2[edit]

Possibly from German Sache (thing).


sucker (plural suckers)

  1. (slang, emphatic) Any thing or object.
    • 1975, Frank Zappa, San Ber'dino:
      She's in love with a boy from the rodeo who pulls the rope on the chute when they let those suckers go.
    • 1984, Runaway (film): scene in a helicopter, around 5 min 20 sec
      RAMSAY: Dave, can you land this sucker?
    See if you can get that sucker working again.
  2. (slang, derogatory) A person.
    • 2009, Stephen Hunter, The Day Before Midnight: A Novel, Bantam, →ISBN, page 232:
      You got to hit that sucker and hit him over and over. You got to hope he runs out ...
    • 2016, John Sandford, Extreme Prey, Prey, →ISBN, page 244:
      Maybe you hit that sucker and we'll get some DNA ...
Usage notes[edit]

Usually preceded by a demonstrative adjective (this, that, these, those).


See also[edit]


Middle Low German[edit]


From Middle High German zucker, from Italian zucchero, which see.


sucker m

  1. sugar


  • German Low German: Sucker
  • Dutch Low Saxon: suker
  • Plautdietsch: Zocka
  • Danish: sukker (see there for further descendants)
  • Norwegian: sukker
  • Saterland Frisian: Sukker
  • Swedish: socker
  • West Frisian: sûker