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Thread: Something sucks

  1. #1
    Tomasz Klimkiewicz is offline Senior Member
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    Something sucks

    Hello, everyone,

    I've come across the expression 'something sucks'. Members of several forums (not language-related ones) I participate in use it on daily basis. Of course it is entirely possible to deduce its meaning from the context, but I would like to know more about its origin, whether it is used more in BE or AE, etc.

    To me it sounds like a certainly derogatory phrase, but is it also impolite or even rude? Would you consider it a slang expression?

    Thanks a lot in advance - T.K.

  2. #2
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    Re: Something sucks

    Webster's Dictionary
    sucks, slang to be objectionable or inadequate.

    Slang
    "It sucks" means "It is not good. "You suck" means that "you" are not good. Source

    Etymology
    suck, Old English sucan, corresponding to Latine sugere "to suck." It's of imitative origin. Meaning "do fellatio" is first recorded 1928. Slang sense of "be contemptible" first attested 1971 (the underlying notion is of fellatio). Source

    Note from Casiopea: For those who know the origin of "sucks" (i.e., that is stems from the act of fellatio, notably women who did the act), the use of slang "sucks" is objectionable because its meaning houses a history); however, for those who do not know its origin, "sucks" is not considered objectionable. :wink: Note also, using "sucks" to refer to a person can be taken two ways: 1) The teacher sucks (S/he is a boring/a bad teacher) or 2) The teacher sucks (S/he performs a contemptible act--look to its origin). :wink:

    Humor
    When Electroluux first marketed their vacuum cleaners in the U.S., their slogan was, "Nothing sucks like an Electrolux!" Apparently, the Swedish-speaking people who created that slogan didn't know that in American slang, "suck" also means "to be bad".

    Rockin' Rudy writes in response:
    "Sucks" isn't a swear word. If something "sucks", that means it isn't good. For example, "That TV show really sucks." You don't live in America, do you? Source

    All the best, :D

  3. #3
    Tomasz Klimkiewicz is offline Senior Member
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    Casiopea,

    Thank you for the detailed explanation. I think I'm gonna like this forum very much (Oooops! That's substandard English. Shame on me. Are colloquialisms acceptable in this respectable forum?)

    Regards - T.K.

  4. #4
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    You're welcome. :D

    gonna is characteristic of spoken language, notably what's referred to as "fast speech", and other terms. going to is the more preferred for formal written language, but, that's not to say its contracted form gonna is taboo. If gonna is in the dictionary, use it; if gonna is not in the dictionary but representative of a language process, use it but clarify it, e.g., You're gonna (going to) love this Forum. The reason being, it empowers the reader. :D

    All the best, :D

  5. #5
    JohnMelissa is offline Newbie
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    Re: Something sucks

    First, please allow me to apologize for my usual inability to understand and follow and my simplemindedness. Being a simple man, I simply can't understand how the expression "that sucks" is ever polite and not always crass. And I will never understand how a negative connotation was ever assigned the act of felatio. In my simple world, "that sucks" would describe something of the utmost joy and pleasure and would represent the most tender and loving phrase. Please help me understand.

  6. #6
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    Re: Something sucks

    The reason for the negative connotation is that most people do not get the gratification from giving fellatio that they do from receiving. Thus it is generally considered that the other person is getting the better end of the "deal".

  7. #7
    mishap is offline Newbie
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    Re: Something sucks

    Sucks?
    One possibility--I have run across this in either a Neil Stephenson novel, one of the The Baroque Cycle books, or a Melville story, maybe Billy Budd (but it could have been Moby Dick). In the book it was a nautical term English sailors used to critique the sail-worthiness of a ship. Apparently if the ship is not properly constructed, a back-wash forms at the rear of the ship, and it actually "sucks" the ship backwards as it tries to sail forward.

  8. #8
    acslater017 is offline Junior Member
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    Re: Something sucks

    The phrase "it sucks" is not quite profanity/swearing, but it should never be used in a formal or professional setting! It's definitely slang and not very "adult". It's really a phrase used by, say, 35 year-olds and younger in casual situations. I'm 24, but I wouldn't say "that sucks" in front of someone I don't know. Others might.

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