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Can we say something like this?

he was under the deception of a false idea he sold his belongings.

or

he was under the deception of a false promise he sold his belongings.

Are these grammatically wrong or is it just gibberish conveying no meaning?

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    The fixed phrase is "under the impression". By contrast, "under the deception" is rare to non-existent
    – Henry
    Commented Nov 10, 2022 at 9:40

3 Answers 3

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I think fev's answer does an excellent job of covering the subtleties of deception and delusion/impression.

"Deception" involves "trickery", "swindling", and things of that sort. One can use deception to achieve a certain end. So, it doesn't make sense to say "One is under deception."

By contrast, if a person labours under a certain illusion owing to lack of foresight or knowledge or by being someone else's target of deception, one could say that that person is under a (false) impression or under the delusion of something.

The bottomline is deception involves some crafty act, whereas delusion is more of a "passive state" of being.

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  • It is not obvious how the first two sentences of the second paragraph entail the third one. How exactly does the meaning of deception entail that 'it doesn't make sense' to use under with it?
    – jsw29
    Commented Nov 11, 2022 at 16:45
  • @jsw29 You're right the cause- effect relationship isn't implied in the para. Need to edit it out. Later, maybe. Thanks for pointing it out.
    – user405662
    Commented Nov 11, 2022 at 16:51
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You can definitely say

under the delusion

M-W defines delusion and gives an example with under:

something that is falsely or delusively believed or propagated

  • under the delusion that they will finish on schedule

As for deception, it is rarely used with under,and mostly without the article:

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Looking at the some contexts, I see that being under some deception is common in religious texts and refers to being deceived by something or someone rather than deceiving oneself.

I would stick with under the delusion. Of course, under the impression is a set phrase but has milder connotations.

HOWEVER
to be under the delusion of something false is tautological. Also, both your sentences do not make sense grammatically. I suggest beginning them with Being under or simply Under and adding a comma after idea and promise respectively. I am not very happy even with this result, but I have already crossed the line of proofreading, so I will stop here.

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  • Is it fair to summarise this answer as 'Yes, we can use under with deception, but it is unusual to do so (and, by the way, there are problems with the OP's examples, that are unrelated to the choice of the preposition)'?
    – jsw29
    Commented Nov 11, 2022 at 16:51
  • @jsw29 Yes, the structure is 'correct' grammatically but uncommon and reserved to contexts different from the OP. Basically I don't recommend it in these two sentences.
    – fev
    Commented Nov 11, 2022 at 17:34
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While the phrase "under the deception" is grammatically possible in the sense that it is not gibberish, it would not be used by a native speaker.

To me, English is a musical and subtle language and the harmony (or discord) of a phrase will often tell you whether something is correct or not. "Under the deception" sounds clumsy.

A collocation that native speakers would use would be 'deceived by a false promise, he sold his belongings.' (see Collins Dictionary)

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    This is a good answer. Under the deception is understandable but not commonly heard. It could be used effectively in advertising, or in constructions where under is used repeatedly and the writer wants to draw attention to the deception, e.g. “He was undersized, underage, and under the complete deception of his cousin, who was underinformed to a degree that would only emerge at a much later point in the expedition.”
    – user205876
    Commented Nov 10, 2022 at 16:56

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