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)
- 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]
- (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]
- A parasite; a sponger.
- 1642, Fuller, Thomas, 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, Paige, Elbridge Gerry [Dow, Jr.], 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.
- 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.
- A thing that works by sucking something.
- The embolus, or bucket, of a pump; also, the valve of a pump basket.
- A pipe through which anything is drawn.
- 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.
- (Britain, colloquial) A suction cup.
- An animal such as the octopus and remora, which adhere to other bodies with such organs.
- 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]
- (US, informal) A piece of candy which is sucked [from 1820s]; a lollipop [from 1900s]
- (slang, archaic) A hard drinker; a soaker.
- (US, obsolete) An inhabitant of Illinois.
- 1848, Durivage, Francis Alexander; Burnham, George P., “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.
- (US, slang) A person who is easily deceived, tricked or persuaded to do something; a naive person [from 1830s]
- One poor sucker had actually given her his life’s savings.
- 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.
- A person irresistibly attracted by something specified.
- A sucker for ghost stories.
- (obsolete, vulgar, British slang) The 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.
- (piece of candy): lollipop
- (sponger): See also Thesaurus:scrounger
- (hard drinker): suck-pint; See also Thesaurus:drunkard
- (inhabitant of Illinois): Illinoisian
- (one who is easily fooled): chump, fall guy, fish, fool, gull, mark, mug, patsy, rube, schlemiel, soft touch; See also Thesaurus:dupe
- (penis): See also Thesaurus:penis
- (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.
- (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.
- (transitive) 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.
sucker (plural suckers)
- (slang) A thing or object. Any thing or object being called attention to with emphasis, as in "this sucker".
- (informal) Generalized term of reference to a person.
- See if you can get that sucker working again.