My friend just got a new job, but in order to fool others for some time, he acted sad and said he didn't get the job.

Is there a word to describe this behavior?

  • He deceived others or tricked others into thinking he didn't yet get a job. – Othya Jun 25 '15 at 17:32
  • What's wrong with liar? – Chenmunka Jun 25 '15 at 17:36
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    Close-voters: don't focus on the job part. Focus on the pretending part. – Dan Bron Jun 25 '15 at 17:49
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    You got suckered, my friend. – Tushar Raj Jun 25 '15 at 17:56
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    @TusharRaj And often expressed as an interjection, Suckah! – bib Jun 25 '15 at 18:54

I think sandbagging might cover it.

See my answer to another post on a similar topic.

[Quoted here by request]

The term I usually hear is

sandbag v, v tr To downplay or misrepresent one's ability in a game or activity in order to deceive (someone), especially in gambling: sandbagged the pool player by playing poorly in the first game when stakes were low.

The etymology is interesting and instructive. From Etymonline:

. . . Meaning "pretend weakness," 1970s perhaps is extended from poker-playing sense of "refrain from raising at the first opportunity in hopes of raising more steeply later" (1940), which perhaps is from sandbagger in the sense of "bully or ruffian who uses a sandbag as a weapon to knock his intended victim unconscious" (1882).

I take from this that the sandbag so mentioned must have been a non-obvious weapon that would have taken the victim by surprise.

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  • Good one! Oh, good one! I'm going to have to wait til tomorrow til I can give you the +1 you so richly deserve. But I'd recommend you copy in the relevant definition & cites so that this answer can stand by itself. – Dan Bron Jun 25 '15 at 21:09
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    I'm not entirely sure "sandbagging" is applicable here; it seems to be generally used to deceive with regard to future activity/behavior (e.g. intentionally playing poorly to instill false confidence in competitors, then stepping up when the stakes are higher). OP's friend has already succeeded and is just "faking out" his friends. – Doktor J Jun 25 '15 at 23:21
  • As an aside, this forum has an interesting etymology posited for the origins of the term in the sporting/competition sense. – Doktor J Jun 25 '15 at 23:27

There is the interjection, psych

(slang) Indicating that one's preceding statement was false and that one has successfully fooled one's interlocutor. Also sike.


It is sometimes used by the deceiver when he or she reveals the truth (and often to gloat in the deception). More often than not, the deception is of very short duration.

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    If we're taking interjections, I have to mention Bazinga – Tushar Raj Jun 25 '15 at 20:24

There are many words to describe this. The best fit is the one you've already used. Your friend fooled you. He might actually say those exact words after the act: "I didn't get the job... Fooled you, I did get it."

Quoting OALD notes from deceive:

Synonyms: fool, deceive, betray, take in, trick, con

which word?

Many of these words involve making somebody believe something that is not true, but some of them are more disapproving than others. Deceive is probably the worst because people typically deceive friends, relations and others who know and trust them. People may feel cheated/betrayed by somebody in authority who they trusted to look after their interests. If somebody takes you in, they may do it by acting a part and using words and charm effectively. If somebody cheats/fools/tricks/cons you, they may get something from you and make you feel stupid. However, somebody might fool you just as a joke; and to trick somebody is sometimes seen as a clever thing to do, if the person being tricked is seen as a bad person who deserves it.


  • to cheat/fool/trick/con somebody out of something
  • to cheat/fool/deceive/betray/trick/con somebody into doing something
  • to feel cheated/fooled/deceived/betrayed/tricked/conned
  • to fool/deceive yourself
  • to cheat/trick/con your way into something
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There's an idiom for this behavior -- "to shed crocodile tears". You can also use the verb weep instead of shed.

From TFD:

Shed/weep crocodile tears:

to show sadness that is not sincere

Usage notes: Some stories say that crocodiles cry while they are eating what they have attacked.

Your friend wept crocodile tears =)

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  • This could be a very interesting answer! Can you include a dictionary (or other authoritative) definition of crocodile tears in your answer? Make sure to mention where you found it. – Dan Bron Jun 25 '15 at 17:56
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    Crocodile tears is disapproving. It is used when someone fakes sadness in situations that actually call for sadness. What happened here was that he faked the sadness and the situation along with it. – Tushar Raj Jun 25 '15 at 17:59
  • @TusharRaj Thanks for putting "faking sadness in situations which call for sadness" into words. I knew something bugged me about crocodile tears but offhand couldn't articulate it (but you can see why I asked for a dictionary definition). – Dan Bron Jun 25 '15 at 18:02
  • Dan, I already knew this expression, but added a source. @Tushar Raj -- I disagree. Kids often shed crocodile tears when they are not actually hurt. – icy Jun 25 '15 at 18:04
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    @icy Sure you knew this expression: that's how you were able to add it as an answer! But the point of answering is to teach it to others, so we often ask for more details, and ideally authoritative references, beyond the simple suggestion itself. – Dan Bron Jun 25 '15 at 18:09

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