never give a sucker an even break


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never give a sucker an even break

Don't allow a person who's easily duped a fair chance, as in He's always trying to give out expired coupons for his store, firmly believing in never giving a sucker an even break . Probably a direct quotation, it has been attributed to showman P. T. Barnum (responsible for the oft-quoted "There's a sucker born every minute"); and comedian W. C. Fields (who popularized it in one of his films); and theater manager Edward Francis Albee, the most probable of the three. [Slang; early 1900s]
See also: break, even, give, never, sucker
References in periodicals archive ?
Fields' humor was evidently lost on Breen, who became even more picky when dealing with Fields' 1941 movie Never Give a Sucker an Even Break.
Indeed, faced with the ultimate busybody, he could only respond by making censorship itself the butt of his comedy in Never Give a Sucker an Even Break, with the famous line: "This scene was supposed to be in a saloon, but the censor cut it out.