What is a good word that describes the act of purposefully leaving someone else in a state of ignorance with the goal of benefiting from their, well, ignorance?

  • It probably depends on which connotation you're hoping to emphasize. The notion of actually benefitting from their ignorance implies some level of malice, which leads me to terms like deceive and swindle. A more innocent (even accidental) purpose might lead one to use terms like befuddle or confuse. If you're trying to indicate that the act is itself non-action (that is, you are purposefully not correcting someone's ignorance, by remaining silent), there are phrases such as keeping mum or not disabusing them of their notion. – Mark Thompson Jan 21 '15 at 10:49



  1. to put into a state of little or no sensibility; benumb the faculties of; put into a stupor.


Oxford dictionaries

Make a fool of


Oxford dictionaries

Make (someone) unable to think clearly



To muddle, stupefy, or act foolishly; as with alcoholic liquor or infatuation.


How about bamboozle:

From The Free Dictionary:

  1. To deceive or dupe; hoodwink. See Synonyms at deceive.
  2. To confuse; bewilder.

And From Wordnet 3.0 (by way of Wordnik):

v. conceal one's true motives from especially by elaborately feigning good intentions so as to gain an end

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.


Sorry, not a single word, but an applicable expression, "pull the wool over someone's eyes", is used to keep someone from knowing something, as illustrated in this example (and definition) from TheFreeDictionary.com:

Definition: to deceive someone in order to prevent them from knowing what you are really doing.

Example: "Don't let insurance companies pull the wool over your eyes - ask for a list of all the hidden charges."

  • Good answer. Any idea of etymology? – WS2 Jan 21 '15 at 0:07
  • @WS2 - I'm still looking for the etymology. There are anecdotal references to ill-fitting powdered wigs made of wool that crafty lawyers would figuratively pull down over judges' eyes in the courtroom, or robbers would yank down over gentlemen's eyes whilst robbing them. I need to dig a little deeper still, I think. – Kristina Lopez Jan 21 '15 at 0:32
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    The origin is mentioned in phrases.org.uk but it might be worth to ask as a separate question on EL&U. – ermanen Jan 21 '15 at 0:59
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    Definitely related to powdered wigs, I feel certain of that. I've just noticed the synonym to lead someone up the garden path. That is almost exactly equivalent. – WS2 Jan 21 '15 at 1:00

The word that immediately popped for me is "defraud"

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    Why is that? Please give an explanation for your choice. – Matt E. Эллен Jan 21 '15 at 10:04
  • This answer certainly lacks explanation, but that does not justify 3 downvotes so far... And if anyone is of the opinion this word does not fit the context, I'd suggest leaving a comment. – Em1 Jan 21 '15 at 10:46
  • I am not one of the down voters, but the problem appears to me to be that this is simply not an answer; it mentions a relevant word, but it should be a comment. On another answer (now deleted) I have suggested to Duane to substantiate and explain answers, and to learn from the help center, to get maximum enjoyment from the site. I'm hoping those suggestions will be taken up. – andy256 Jan 21 '15 at 12:18

The word I think of is oblivion.

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    Why is that? Please give an explanation for your choice. – Matt E. Эллен Jan 21 '15 at 10:04

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