Idiom: to rip off (verb), a rip-off (noun) – to steal something from another person; to cheat or trick someone into spending more money on a product than what it is worth.
Context #1 – Friends are taking a tour of Los Angeles
Dan: Let’s go see the Hollywood sign next, but don’t leave your bag in the car.
Juan: Really? Why not?
Dan: Because there are thieves at popular sites who often rip off tourists who are not careful with their bags and belongings.
Juan: Oh, I see. That happens sometimes in my country, especially in areas where there are a lot of tourists.
Dan: Yes, so be careful. If someone rips us off, then we will really be in trouble!
Context #2 – Two friends are talking about buying a car
Sami: I saw an advertisement for a new car. It’s so cheap, so I really need to get to that dealership to buy it now!
Petra: Sami, do you really believe that? It’s too good to be true. Those car dealerships rip everyone off.
Sami: Really? But they can’t lie to people. That’s terrible.
Petra: They put up those advertisements to get people to go to the dealership. Then, they say unfortunately that “good deal” is no longer available. They are very tricky. Then they will pressure you into paying a lot more for a car than what it is really worth.
Sami: What a rip-off!! That’s outrageous.
Petra: Yes, it is. You are better off knowing the full market value and shopping around at many different places. Then, hopefully, you won’t get ripped off like so many customers.
Sami: That sounds like a plan!
Meaning: To rip off is a verb and a “rip-off” is a noun. This idiom means to steal something or to purposely deceive or trick someone into paying more for a product than what is necessary. In context 1, two friends are touring Los Angeles and are afraid that if they leave their bags in the car, a thief will “rip them off” or steal their bags. In context 2, Sami sees a really good advertisement for a car, but Petra warns him that the car dealership may be trying to “rip him off” by getting him to go there through false advertising.
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