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mug's game

A task or activity that is foolish, dangerous, or will not result in a positive outcome. Primarily heard in UK. Allowing your children to play with fireworks is a mug's game. They are bound to get injured.
See also: game

a mug's game

an activity which it is stupid to engage in because it is likely to be unsuccessful or dangerous. informal
Mug was mid 19th-century slang for a fool, in particular someone who has been duped by a card sharper or criminal. Mug's game appeared in the early 20th century and has been applied to a wide variety of activities, especially horse racing and betting on horses.
1992 Economist From the way many western businessmen talk, you would think investing in eastern Germany was a mug's game.
See also: game

be a ˈmug’s game

(disapproving, especially British English) an activity which brings little or no benefit to you: Don’t start smoking — it’s a mug’s game.The money’s terrible in this job — it’s a real mug’s game.
Mug here means ‘fool’.
See also: game


1. n. the face. (Crude.) Wipe that smile off your mug!
2. n. a thug; a goon. (Underworld.) Call off your mugs. I’ll come peacefully.
3. tv. to attack and rob someone. Somebody jumped out of an alley and tried to mug me.

mug shot

n. a photograph of one’s face taken for police records. (Underworld.) I’m going to have to ask you to come down to the station and go through some mug shots.
See also: mug, shot