Currently reading this article, there is a line,

Student debt is not a “crisis”; most students graduate with manageable levels of debt, and those with extremely high debt burdens tend to be the folks who got postgraduate degrees or chose to attend expensive private schools. Moreover, if someone has a high debt burden and a low income, he can already, under current law, choose an “income-based” repayment option that forgives the debt after he makes affordable payments for a period. There are certainly sympathetic cases where students were suckered in by colleges’ fraudulent claims, or where students attended school but didn’t graduate, gaining some debt with no degree — but blanket forgiveness, even limited to $10,000, does not target such cases, much less prevent them from continuing.

What does "sucker in" mean?

Googling or dictionaries didn't help.

Thank you.

1 Answer 1


Although some English speakers may occasionally say "suckered in", I believe it to be a mistake, possibly a mixing-up of two phrases:

  1. 'Suckered'
  2. 'Sucked in'

Both mean 'fooled', or 'conned'.

A 'sucker' is someone who has been fooled, or is easily fooled, so 'suckered' seems more specifically mean to be made a sucker.

  • 1
    I don't see anything particularly "wrong" or "non-idiomatic" about including the (admittedly, optional) preposition to in the cited context. Normally we'd expect suckered into [believing or doing something that only a sucker would fall for], but suckered in by [falsehoods] works for me. Feb 20, 2021 at 20:07
  • @FumbleFingers Of course "suckered into [x]" is correct, but that is different to the OP's example. You can equally say "conned into believing..." or "fooled into believing...", but can you imagine anyone saying "conned in by colleagues"? No. It's happened with "suckered in" for the reason I explained in my answer, that it is mistaken for the similarly meaning "sucked in". I think it seems idiomatic to you only because people say it, incorrectly.
    – Astralbee
    Feb 21, 2021 at 9:32
  • I think your final sentence there sums it up (except I think the final word should be deleted! :) It's more an AmE than a BrE usage anyway, regardless of the preposition[s], but according to this NGram, were suckered in by X is almost as common as were suckered by X. Feb 21, 2021 at 12:54
  • @FumbleFingers Nothing wrong with saying its incorrect, even if people do say it. Let's not forget that Americans also say "I could care less".
    – Astralbee
    Feb 22, 2021 at 13:17
  • Let's also not forget that some people (not only Americans) also say rife with opportunity (as if "opportunity" were like "fleas" and "corruption"). But I've eventually had to concede that such people are just "different", not "incorrect" :) Nevertheless, I shall never be reconciled with those people who would of done something. Feb 22, 2021 at 13:21

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