New York Times (August 6) reported under the title, “25 years after Gardner Museum heist, video raises questions” that Federal officials released a video tape recording a guardsman, Richard Abath’s actions on his duty at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in the morning of March 18, 1990, the day 13 artworks including three Rembrandts and a Vermeer were stolen from the Museum. It reads:

In 1990, Richard Abath, a 23-year-old who, while moonlighting as a security guard, allowed two thieves posing as police officers to enter the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum here. For 25 years, his decision to buzz in the men who carted away $500 million worth of art has been largely treated as the hapless act of a rookie watchman who fell for a bluff.

I can understand “fall from a bluff,” but I don’t know what “fall for a bluff” means. By Googling, I barely found “fell for a bluff” in the Sport Rack's article (March 15, 2015):

“The Stormers finally surrendered their unbeaten record when they were defeated 28-19 by the visiting New Zealand side, the Chiefs, in the Super Rugby match at Newlands on Saturday afternoon. After the match, Stormers captain Duane Vermeulen said his side fell for a Chiefs bluff.”

I don’t find “fall for a bluff” as an idiom in English dictionaries at hand, nor its currency on Google Ngram. What does it mean? Is this a popular English idiom?

closed as off-topic by Araucaria, anongoodnurse, TimLymington, Mari-Lou A, FumbleFingers Aug 9 '15 at 15:38

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  • Look up fall for and bluff separately. – Araucaria Aug 7 '15 at 2:50
  • Have voted to close. The OP can find the answer to this question by looking up fall for and bluff in a dictionary. – Araucaria Aug 7 '15 at 2:50
  • 3
    @Araucaria. True. I should have checked the meaning of "fall for." I took "fall for a bluff" altogether for an idiom. It's jump the gun. ChipherBot and Elliot Frisch, thanks a lot for your kind answers. – Yoichi Oishi Aug 7 '15 at 3:20

Bluff definition from Google:

An attempt to deceive someone into believing that one can or is going to do something.

So basically it is saying that a rookie watchman fell for a bluff (fell for an attempt to deceive him).


It's a reference to the card game poker. To bluff (from Wikipedia) is to

In the card game of poker, a bluff is a bet or raise made with a hand which is not thought to be the best hand. To bluff is to make such a bet.

To fall for a bluff is to fall for a deceitful proposition.

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