Suspicion may be expressed by these colloquial phrases in common use:

to be (look, sound) fishy— to be (look, sound) suspicious or doubtful

fishy — arousing suspicion; suspicious; of a disreputable or doubtful character

I don't like that. It sounds a bit fishy to me. (A. W.)

"You mean that in your belief Jackqueline de Bellefort shot madame Doyle?" Poirot asked.' "That's what it looks like to me." "It all sounds rather fishy to me." (A. Chr.) There was something fishy about Dondolo's solicitude, something frightening. (S. H.) He was a new man — Sir Bartholomew had only him a fortnight and the moment after the crime he disappears — vanishes into the air. That looks a bit fishy, doesn't it? (A. Chr.) This is a fishy story. (A. H.)

to smell a rat— - to become suspicious; to have suspicions

No, Sir, it wouldn't do. If he is what he may be, he would smell a rat. (V. L.) "The fool, " muttered Louis Lemire. "He only got what he deserved. He should have smelt a rat." (S. M.)

to have (have got) a hunch — to have a strong feeling of suspicion; to have a suspicion which has no logical basis, a premonition

I've got a hunch that he did it, but there's nothing to go on. (J. F.) He has a hunch that he is being tricked. (A. H.) He says he's got a hunch there's something wrong with the plan, but he can't put his finger on it. (R. K.)

There's a catch in it (somewhere) expresses suspicion that everything is not what it appears to be.

"Do you remember what it was you fell over?" Connie thought again. She felt that there was a catch in it somewhere. (N. C.) I thought there was a catch in it somewhere. (B. Sh.)

a mare's nest— an unfounded suspicion; a baseless ru­mour; a mere invention. Often: to find a mare's nest.,

I'm much obliged to you. A pretty mare's nest arresting him would have been. (A. Chr.) Soames rose. "Never mind that. Please watch 47, and take care not to find a mare's nest. Good-morning!" Mr. Polteed's eye glinted at the words "mare's nest!" (J. G.)

Among colloquial phrases containing the idea of deception

the following are very common:

to take someone in— to deceive him; to cheat

Don't you dare try this game on me? I taught it to you and it doesn't take me in. (B. Sh.) "How malicious you are, Alex dear." "Because I refuse to be taken in by you?" (A. Chr.) I am sure you could be taken in, you know, if a clever person worked on your good nature. (V. L.)

to pull someone's leg— to deceive jokingly; to make fun


Other phrases similarly used are:

to have someone on and to kid someone —to deceive. They

mean almost the same as to pull someone's leg.

I'm kiddingmeans I'm joking; I'm not telling the truth;

it is only intended as a joke.

You're having me on.— You're not serious; you don't

mean what you say; you're making fun of me.

Andrew did not smile. "I didn't ask you to pull my leg, Mr Sillman. I'm dead serious about this girl." (A. C.)

"What does she say?" asked Neil. "She's pulling your leg, " replied the Captain smiling. (S. M.) You're losing your sense of humour, Wendy. I won't dare try to pull your leg in future. (V. L.) Can't you see he's just having you on? (W. B.) I didn't really mean it. I was just having you on. (W. B.)

He kidded her into believing that he was a bache­lor. (D. E. S.)

to pull the wool over someone's eyes — to deceive him

Yet this is merely to pull the wool over the eyes of the people .... (Th. D.) It is hardly to be supposed that his friend could pull the wool over his eyes. (A. Chr.)

eyewash — deceit, trickery, a misleading, frequently flat­tering statement

Don't trust his nice, friendly manner; that's all eyewash, and actually he hates you. (A. W.) He told me he'd called to see my paintings, but I knew that was eyewash. (D. E. S.) Why don't you leave the man alone, Captain? Can't you see he doesn't care about this eyewash? (S. H.)

to put one over somebody — to deceive him; to fool him

"You're really putting one over the warden, " Samson said to Roy.

Then he stopped. His dark, sharp eyes had been somewhat bloodshot. I bet you think you're putting one over me." (S. H.)

to let a person down — to deceive and disappoint him; to fail him in a time of need

Deplorable if she lets you down. (B. R.) I'm a trusting kind of fellow — and it pays, you know. I've hardly ever been let down. (A. Chr.)

to pull something (one) on a person (Amer.) — to deceive


By God, you'll suffer for insulting me and my guests in this way. By God, you will! Think you could pull this one on me, eh? (E. L.)

to do the dirty on (somebody) — to swindle; to treat shame­fully

Don't you think it's a bit thick that when you've been thoroughly decent with people they should go out of their way to do the dirty on you? (S. M.)

To do one downis colloquial for to cheat, to deceive him.

I've been done down by my best friend. (A. C.) "How many people have you seen done down in your time?"

"Quite a lot, " I said, "but not quite — " "Then why the sweet hell don't you go and put that right?"

"I was going to say, " I replied, "not quite in this way. And just because a lot of people are done down inevitably, that's no reason to add an­other." (C. S.)

to do brown— to swindle; often in the passive: to be done brown— to be swindled

Don't go to that shop or you'll be done brown. (A. W.)

He was too clever for me and I was done brown. (B. H.)

to pull a fast one (over, on)— to take a tactical advantage of, by a sudden manoeuvre or a clever swindle (trick, deception)

He tried to pull a fast one on me, and I listened like I was in a hopdream. (E. L.) This mug Grant then pulls another fast one. (P. Ch.)

To mislead someone deliberately is: to draw a red herring across the track (path) —to intro­duce an irrelevant matter, to distract attention a red herring— an irrelevant matter intended to divert attention

But whatever possessed you to draw that absurd

red herring? (C. S.)

The butler seems to me a very clumsy red herring.

(A. Chr.)

When we came to talk about the bad quality

of the motors, Yenkins drew a red herring

across the path. (K. H.)


to put (throw) someone off the scent — to deceive him by giving wrong information, etc.

He tried to put me off the scent. (A. H.) The swindler threw the police off the scent. (K. H.)

To lead someone up the path (garden path) is similarly used with the meaning to deceive; to impose on.

The young man led Mary up the garden path. (K. H.)

A deceitful person may be figuratively described as a snake in the grass.

He proved to be a snake in the grass. (A. W.) He was a veritable snake in the grass. (W. B.) We had always suspected she was a snake in the grass; now our suspicion was confirmed. (K. H.)

To become a victim of deception is colloquiallyto fall for it or to swallow it, i.e. to believe, to accept as true something that is untrue.

I never thought she'd fall for that old story.

(D. E. S.)

Mr. Satterthwaite thought: "He's looking to see

if I swallow this story." (A. Chr.)

Do you think he'll swallow that explanation?

(W. B.)

Proverbial reminders not to be deceived by the appearance

of things or people:

All that glitters is not gold.

Appearances are deceptive.

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