(A) now means a person easily bamboozled, one of slow
wit; but originally it meant one who cheated or bamboozled. To duff
=to cheat. Persons who sell inferior goods as “great bargains,” under
the pretence of their being smuggled, are duffers; so are hawkers
generally. At the close of the eighteenth century passers of bad money
were so called. Now the word is applied to persons taken in, and by
artists to inferior pictures.
“Robinson a thorough duffer is.”
Alexander Smith: Summer Idyll.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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