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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

  (British informal)
an activity that will not make you happy or successful
Usage notes: A mug is a person who is easily deceived.
Working for a big company is a mug's game - if you want to make money you need to start your own business.
See also: game

mug

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
References in classic literature ?
She turned the mug in her white hands, and sighed happily.
When I say number one,' pursued Mr Squeers, putting the mug before the children, 'the boy on the left hand nearest the window may take a drink; and when I say number two, the boy next him will go in, and so till we come to number five, which is the last boy.
Nicholas murmured something--he knew not what--in reply; and the little boys, dividing their gaze between the mug, the bread and butter (which had by this time arrived), and every morsel which Mr Squeers took into his mouth, remained with strained eyes in torments of expectation.
Number one seized the mug ravenously, and had just drunk enough to make him wish for more, when Mr Squeers gave the signal for number two, who gave up at the same interesting moment to number three; and the process was repeated until the milk and water terminated with number five.
Jones no sooner heard the proposal than, immediately agreeing with the learned serjeant, he ordered a bowl, or rather a large mug, filled with the liquor used on these occasions, to be brought in, and then began the ceremony himself.
With his big florid face held between his hands he continued to stare hard, while the dingy little man in spectacles coolly took a drink of beer and stood the glass mug back on the table.
All his movements - the way he grasped the mug, the act of drinking, the way he set the heavy glass down and folded his arms - had a firmness, an assured precision which made the big and muscular Ossipon, leaning forward with staring eyes and protruding lips, look the picture of eager indecision.
This obvious restraint argued an incredible and inexplicable timidity of the big fellow before the calm little man, who again lifted the glass mug, drank, and put it down with brusque and assured movements.
Having delivered himself of this speech with many flourishes of manner, he drew from beneath his coat a flat stone bottle, and holding the cork between his teeth, qualified his mug of water with a plentiful infusion of the liquor it contained.
When dinner was done, and when what remained of the platters and what remained of the congealed gravy had been put back into what remained of the pie, which served as an economical investment for all miscellaneous savings, Riderhood filled the mug with beer and took a long drink.
collection of travel mugs with urban commutes in mind.
The following year, Max initiated large-scale overseas production in order to bring his mugs to market.
The relationship between the size of the handle and the size of the mug is an important feature.
He fell foul of the law as some of the mugs he sold on the internet featured trademarked images including Premiership football club logos.
ASURVEY for Heinz Cup Soups says almost 60% of us have an emotional attachment to our favourite mug and 31% are so protective they won't let anyone else drink from it.