I was thinking that it would be useful to have some potent way of expressing that a person, population, nation, organization, species.. Any entity. Is susceptible to being constantly duped by some trick and they either never figure it out or it takes a long time for them to slowly put the pieces together. If there isn't a word, how could it be phrased?

The classic example below.

Charlie Brown Falls for it Again..


6 Answers 6


Two different words spring to mind:



too willing to believe that someone is telling the truth, that people's intentions in general are good, or that life is simple and fair



easily deceived or tricked, and too willing to believe everything that other people say

  • 6
    There’s an old joke we used to tell each other as children - you’d tell a friend the word “gullible” wasn’t in the dictionary, and then watch them go and look it up :-)
    – mclayton
    Commented Feb 6, 2020 at 20:44
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    that's actually true; it was removed from this year's edition of the OED
    – Strawberry
    Commented Feb 7, 2020 at 13:50
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    @Strawberry Must...resist...temptation...to...check.
    – user269635
    Commented Feb 7, 2020 at 14:29
  • +1 for using the word that Charles M. Shulz used in the dialog of strip to describe Charlie Brown's behavior in this very instance. Commented Feb 7, 2020 at 15:03
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    @Strawberry Weird. In Inuit, it's the opposite. They have 50 different words for "gullible". Commented Feb 8, 2020 at 3:26


sucker n Slang
One who is easily deceived; a dupe. TFD Online


The term for this in American English (where Charlie Brown comes from) is patsy.

patsy n Slang
A person easily taken advantage of, cheated, blamed, or ridiculed.
TFD Online

  • But that's a noun. What adjective arises from it? How would I use it to explain the gullibility of the British public in voting for Brexit? Although the OED proposes a possible Italian etymology, my own gut-feel tells me it is a racist Irish stereotype.
    – WS2
    Commented Feb 6, 2020 at 22:30
  • @WS2: OP asked for a word, not an adjective.
    – Robusto
    Commented Feb 6, 2020 at 22:43
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    @WS2: Like this: "You know that Charlie Brown guy, from the comic strip? He was a real patsy."
    – Robusto
    Commented Feb 7, 2020 at 0:58
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    Also note that describe is not used by OP: "I was thinking that it would be useful to have some potent way of expressing that a person, population, nation, organization, species." The way I suggest is to say that person is a patsy... And so are the Brits who voted for Brexit, etc. They have been played and they are all patsies, except for the ones who profit from the disaster.
    – Robusto
    Commented Feb 7, 2020 at 1:07
  • 2
    This 1889 quotation (from OED) seems to be the origin - note that it was in Boston- just as I thought, it has Irish denigration all over it. 1889 H. F. Reddall Fact, Fancy & Fable 404 A party of minstrels in Boston, about twenty years ago, had a performance... When the pedagogue asked in a rage, ‘Who did that?’, the boys would answer, ‘Patsy Bolivar!’... The phrase..spread beyond the limits of the minstrel performance, and when a scapegoat was alluded to, it was in the name of ‘Patsy Bolivar’..the one who is always blamed for everything.
    – WS2
    Commented Feb 7, 2020 at 8:47

Someone who is constantly deceived and never learns would be an easy mark. Here is Merriam-Webster:

: one easily imposed upon, duped, or overcome

The duped meaning especially comes into play in contexts where someone is otherwise being fooled. For instance, Psychology Today in an article titled "How to Keep Fake News Out of Your Head" (Guy P. Harrison, 18 July 2019) recommends that people try to avoid being an easy mark, that is, duped by bad information:

Police your own thoughts. Don’t be such an easy mark. Good thinking is not as difficult as you may imagine.

This word is not only applied to people. A recent headline from CNN demonstrates its use as applied to a country, denoting that a group of followers of the US president thought the country would be easily deceived:

Trump's team thought Ukraine was an easy mark. It was a bad miscalculation. (Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, 21 January 2020)

So Charlie Brown is an easy mark for Lucy's tricks.


Charlie Brown is slow on the uptake.

If someone is quick/slow on the uptake, they understand things easily/with difficulty: He's a little slow on the uptake, so you may have to repeat the instructions a few times.https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/be-quick-slow-on-the-uptake

I think this emphasises the persistence of the problem rather that simply calling Charlie a stupid person or a sucker.

  • 1
    This implies that he'll eventually get it. Charlie Brown has been falling for the football trick for decades, he never learns.
    – Barmar
    Commented Feb 7, 2020 at 9:03
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    @Barmar So, very slow on the uptake? Commented Feb 7, 2020 at 15:17
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    @AndrewMorton Maybe just before Schultz died he should have made one last cartoon where he figures it out and kicks Lucy in the head instead.
    – Barmar
    Commented Feb 7, 2020 at 15:26
  • @Barmar There was a strip where, out of gratitude for something Charlie Brown did, Lucy actually did not pull it away… and Charlie Brown ended up kicking her hand by accident instead of the ball.
    – VGR
    Commented Feb 7, 2020 at 15:43

Another name for an individual whom (also as defined "bumpkin) Is described as ignorant, ignoramus, or foolish, would be a "Rube"

  • This is more like an essay than an answer. Is it "rube" by the way. Is it a proper name? Could you add its definition and/or a dictionary link. I don't think I have ever heard of "Rube" before. Thanks!
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Feb 7, 2020 at 10:30
  • 3
    Rube’s a good word, but this answer would improve significantly if you chop everything off after the first paragraph.
    – mclayton
    Commented Feb 7, 2020 at 10:44
  • I only capitalised the word here for emphasis. Clearly one who is familiar with the tools of the information age could procure what you are seeking with a brief google query. (or search engine of your liking)
    – user374223
    Commented Feb 7, 2020 at 10:45
  • @user374223 Indeed I could Google it, very true. But once you have realised that it is not a common term and you have seen other answers that are more considerate to visitors and users alike, by helpfully providing that definition, perhaps you too could improve your answer. P.S. not my downvote.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Feb 7, 2020 at 10:52
  • Edited for the sake of berevity.
    – user374223
    Commented Feb 8, 2020 at 1:59

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