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Old 09-10-2018, 11:26 AM
Little Nemo Little Nemo is offline
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Why does saying something sucks mean it's bad?

Inspired by a recent thread where somebody essentially said their local weather sucks. And a warning that this post (and undoubtedly the resulting thread) will contain some crude language.

There are obviously exceptions but I think it's safe to say the consensus is that receiving oral sex is good. So why do we use it as a metaphor to say something is bad?

Let's use football as an example. As a Bills fan, I would say yesterday's game really sucked in order to express how much I disliked it. But wouldn't it make more sense for a Packers fan to be saying yesterday's game really sucked in order to express how much they enjoyed it?

Do other languages use this metaphor? If so, does it have a positive or negative meaning?
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Old 09-10-2018, 11:31 AM
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Because telling a guy that he sucks something is bad due to long-standing homophobia.

Therefore, anything that sucks is bad and anything bad sucks.
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Old 09-10-2018, 11:35 AM
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If my bank account was sucking up money, I'd be happy. But a blowhard sucking the oxygen out of the room, that's bad.
So...
Bank account sucks = good
Blowhard sucks= bad
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Old 09-10-2018, 11:45 AM
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Originally Posted by manson1972 View Post
Because telling a guy that he sucks something is bad due to long-standing homophobia.

Therefore, anything that sucks is bad and anything bad sucks.
But when the metaphor is used, it's always about receiving oral sex not giving it. When I say the weather sucks, I am not saying I am the weather. So I don't suck; I am sucked by the weather.
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Old 09-10-2018, 11:46 AM
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Yeah, I know. You are being sucked by the weather. Therefore, the weather is gay, and hence, bad.
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Old 09-10-2018, 12:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Little Nemo View Post
There are obviously exceptions but I think it's safe to say the consensus is that receiving oral sex is good. So why do we use it as a metaphor to say something is bad?
Why aren't you wishing someone well when you say "Fuck you" or "fuck this"?
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Old 09-10-2018, 12:16 PM
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The OP is assuming that the origin of this use of the word "sucks" comes from oral sex. This is probably the most likely explanation, but it's not the only possible one, and I have been unable to find a definitive cite for the origin.

From here:
Quote:
Besides, it's not even clear that sucks has naughty origins. We might trace its roots to the phrase sucks hind teat, meaning inferior. Or there's sucks to you, a nonsexual taunt apparently favored by British schoolchildren of yore.
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Old 09-10-2018, 12:50 PM
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There's also "sucks raw eggs" as an early use. An egg-sucking dog was a bad thing.
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Old 09-10-2018, 12:55 PM
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There's also "sucks raw eggs" as an early use. An egg-sucking dog was a bad thing.
Just don't try to teach it to your grandmother. She already know how.
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Old 09-10-2018, 12:57 PM
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Yeah, I was going to say that I assumed the phrase to be derived from "sucks eggs", which dates back to at least the 1500s.
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Old 09-10-2018, 02:12 PM
Little Nemo Little Nemo is offline
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Yeah, I know. You are being sucked by the weather. Therefore, the weather is gay, and hence, bad.
You seem to be starting with the assumption that there's a homophobic intent and then working backwards from that. I don't feel the weather is generally seen as something masculine. And the metaphor is widely applied to other gender-neutral concepts like people saying my job sucks or the economy sucks or this movie blows.
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Old 09-10-2018, 02:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Thudlow Boink View Post
The OP is assuming that the origin of this use of the word "sucks" comes from oral sex. This is probably the most likely explanation, but it's not the only possible one, and I have been unable to find a definitive cite for the origin.
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There's also "sucks raw eggs" as an early use. An egg-sucking dog was a bad thing.
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Originally Posted by Darren Garrison View Post
Yeah, I was going to say that I assumed the phrase to be derived from "sucks eggs", which dates back to at least the 1500s.
Okay, I can see this. Sucking as a literal act was applied metaphorically to the idea of sucking the good part out of something (like an egg) which was seen as a negative. The use of sucking as a sexual term was a separate meaning.
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Old 09-10-2018, 02:19 PM
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You seem to be starting with the assumption that there's a homophobic intent
I'm pretty sure that IS the intent. Why else would it be considered bad?

Maybe it's not a conscious intent any longer.

Is there any difference between "The Patriots sucked yesterday!" and "The Patriots sucked a bunch of dicks yesterday!" in the aspect of the insult?
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Old 09-10-2018, 03:04 PM
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My understanding agrees with manson1972.

Same for, "This blows."

Last edited by Sage Rat; 09-10-2018 at 03:04 PM.
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Old 09-10-2018, 03:09 PM
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The phrase "sucks" go back long before our current interpretation of "sucks dick." The term "sucks eggs" has been around for a very long time. The OED cites early usage of "sucks" primarily by children. Here is a thread from 2010 that answers this question.
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Old 09-10-2018, 03:09 PM
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So, is it safe to say that ONE of the interpretations is that "sucks" and "is a cocksucker" are exactly the same in literal meaning, though no longer the same in intent?
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Old 09-10-2018, 03:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thudlow Boink View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by From the Slate article that Thudlow linked to:
Or there's sucks to you, a nonsexual taunt apparently favored by British schoolchildren of yore.
That note reminded me of Lord of the Flies: when Piggy complains that his asthma is bothering him, one of the other boys taunts him with "sucks to your assmar."

Edit: I said the same damned thing in the 2010 thread.

Last edited by kenobi 65; 09-10-2018 at 03:12 PM.
  #18  
Old 09-10-2018, 03:59 PM
Hari Seldon Hari Seldon is offline
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Why aren't you wishing someone well when you say "Fuck you" or "fuck this"?
Precisely. My late colleague told me that when he escaped from Germany in 1939, age 16, one of the first things he saw in London was a large sign painted on the side of a building that said "Fuck Hitler". He know enough English to understand what it said, but he could not imagine why anyone would wish a pleasurable act to Hitler.

There metaphors acquire a life of their own. My son is about to publish a book that could have been titled "Why Software Sucks". In fact it will have a more prosaic title, something like, "The Trouble with Software".
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Old 09-10-2018, 04:12 PM
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Originally Posted by manson1972 View Post
I'm pretty sure that IS the intent. Why else would it be considered bad?

Maybe it's not a conscious intent any longer.

Is there any difference between "The Patriots sucked yesterday!" and "The Patriots sucked a bunch of dicks yesterday!" in the aspect of the insult?
I understand what you're saying but I still disagree. You're begging the question.

I feel that when most people use the word suck, even as a sexual term, they're thinking of it in a heterosexual perspective rather than a homosexual perspective. So an expression like "the weather sucks" wouldn't work as a homophobic insult because the context isn't there.
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Old 09-10-2018, 04:52 PM
DavidwithanR DavidwithanR is offline
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Originally Posted by Little Nemo View Post
I understand what you're saying but I still disagree. You're begging the question.

I feel that when most people use the word suck, even as a sexual term, they're thinking of it in a heterosexual perspective rather than a homosexual perspective. So an expression like "the weather sucks" wouldn't work as a homophobic insult because the context isn't there.
I think it's a simple case of an abbreviation. Sucks (cock). People were more careful at that time to avoid being heard saying "a bad word" out loud, and everyone just knew what it meant. Until they forgot.
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Old 09-10-2018, 06:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Little Nemo View Post
I understand what you're saying but I still disagree. You're begging the question.

I feel that when most people use the word suck, even as a sexual term, they're thinking of it in a heterosexual perspective rather than a homosexual perspective. So an expression like "the weather sucks" wouldn't work as a homophobic insult because the context isn't there.
It doesn't make sense because you are seeing yourself as the receiver of this oral sex. You're not being sucked by the weather - the weather is sucking some random, unspecified penis(s). There really isn't a homo- or heterosexual component to it - unless you can think of some word or phrase that includes both "suck" and an alternative to penis that would generally be considered complementary when used to or about a woman. I can't think of one.
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Old 09-10-2018, 06:14 PM
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Tangentially, why is "suck" associated with oral sex anyway? Who has ever had their penis actually "sucked"? I dont see that as being too enjoyable.
  #23  
Old 09-10-2018, 06:21 PM
Jungian Camisole Jungian Camisole is offline
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As a teenager in the 70's, the phrase I heard was "this sucks shit". We knew in the movie Uncle Buck when the kid says "this sucks" , it was scandalous because we knew what went at the end of that phrase. I figured it was just shortened to "this sucks" as time went on.

Last edited by Jungian Camisole; 09-10-2018 at 06:23 PM. Reason: Phrasing!
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Old 09-10-2018, 06:39 PM
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Looking at the other thread, I'll revise my previous statement. It does seem like the etymology is fairly uncertain. If it started as a child's statement, "Sucks to you", I wouldn't say that that rules out sexual terminology (kids are aware of things, despite popular conception), but I could see that as being a shorter equivalent to, "My response to you would be 'go suck an egg'." I could also see it as being a replacement word, like "darn" instead of "damn".

If we have any etymologists handy, I'd be curious to know how popular "go suck an egg" was in the early 20th century, whether fellatio could be referenced as "sucking" at the time, and whether there were any other phrase that ended with "to you" that were more naughty?
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Old 09-10-2018, 07:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sage Rat View Post

If we have any etymologists handy, I'd be curious to know how popular "go suck an egg" was in the early 20th century, whether fellatio could be referenced as "sucking" at the time, and whether there were any other phrase that ended with "to you" that were more naughty?
I doubt that it was an obscure phrase. The earliest movie listed here having the phrase is 1945, but that source is probably heavily weighted towards more recent films.
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Old 09-10-2018, 07:32 PM
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"Suck rocks" is a phrase too. Don't know where/when it originated tho.
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Old 09-10-2018, 07:35 PM
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Tangentially, why is "suck" associated with oral sex anyway? Who has ever had their penis actually "sucked"? I dont see that as being too enjoyable.
Conversely, "eating" pussy makes more sense (to me at least) than "sucking" dick. I'm curious as to the origins of the phrase.
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Old 09-11-2018, 06:36 PM
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I'm not sure there's much meat to this, though. Even if we stipulate as an accepted premise "okay, 'sucking' originates in sexual innuendo, why is it used to indicate bad stuff?" it can still be used pejoratively, and without any implied homophobia.

Having sex or masturbating is great for an individual, but like Thudlow points out, that doesn't mean pejoratives like "fuck off" or "go fuck yourself" or "fuck you" or "wanker" or "jerk off!" aren't used frequently and enthusiastically.

Likewise, taking a dump is a universal experience that most people feel better after, but there's scads of scatological phrases and pejoratives, for countless occasions, and associated concepts covered by "ass" and "asshole" and who knows what else. But we're all better off for personally having asses and assholes and taking dumps!

So I'm not sure why even if something is enjoyable individually, it can't be used pejoratively, because we have many examples of this happening elsewhere.
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Old 09-11-2018, 07:16 PM
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I doubt that it was an obscure phrase. The earliest movie listed here having the phrase is 1945, but that source is probably heavily weighted towards more recent films.
I'm not sure that showing that it was used in one movie in 1945 is evidence that the phrase was so popular in 1920 that people couldn't even be bothered to say the whole thing.
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Old 09-11-2018, 07:27 PM
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Unfuck you!
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Old 09-12-2018, 12:04 AM
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I don't see any reason why the origins couldn't be nonsexual, but people assumed it was sexual, and thus amplified it by saying "sucks a dick" and such.

I also note that my first exposure to it well predates my learning that homosexuals even existed, or that oral sex was called "sucking" or "blow jobs." It was just a slight pejorative in the 1990s, like butt or crap.
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Old 09-12-2018, 09:41 AM
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A "consensus" that oral sex (even heterosexual) is "good," is rather recent. Sodomy laws and all. There was a marked increase in heterosexual oral sex from the 30s to 60s according to the Kinsey reports. It was famously mainstreamed by the movie Deep Throat in 1972.

In any case, I have always believed that "sucks" as a negative originated from a shortening of "sucks eggs" rather than "sucks dick".

Last edited by Ashtura; 09-12-2018 at 09:41 AM.
  #33  
Old 09-12-2018, 12:07 PM
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Precisely. My late colleague told me that when he escaped from Germany in 1939, age 16, one of the first things he saw in London was a large sign painted on the side of a building that said "Fuck Hitler". He know enough English to understand what it said, but he could not imagine why anyone would wish a pleasurable act to Hitler.
The sign didn't say "Hitler should fuck someone", it was saying "someone should fuck Hitler", and the "with no lube" was understood.

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Old 09-12-2018, 12:29 PM
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Conversely, "eating" pussy makes more sense (to me at least) than "sucking" dick. I'm curious as to the origins of the phrase.
In what other context does "eating" just mean "lick vigorously"*?

Good fellatio can absolutely involve an amount of actual sucking, even though it mainly just _looks_ like the penis is being sucking into the mouth.

*Don't just "lick vigorously", I'm just not including a long a precise manual for cunnilingus in this post.
  #35  
Old 09-12-2018, 02:37 PM
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*Don't just "lick vigorously", I'm just not including a long a precise manual for cunnilingus in this post.
Will you be providing it in another post? Perhaps a Youtube video where you explain your cunnilingus techniques via interpretive dance?
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Old 09-12-2018, 02:47 PM
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Bart Simpson: "I didn't think it was physically possible, but this both sucks and blows."

Re. "fuck": according to the Oxford Dictionary of English, the root of this word means "to strike", i.e., saying "fuck such-and-such" is literally wishing them violence, which makes sense.
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Old 09-12-2018, 03:09 PM
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A "consensus" that oral sex (even heterosexual) is "good," is rather recent. Sodomy laws and all.
You have to distinguish between being good and being legal. If people didn't enjoy receiving oral sex, there would have been no need to enact laws against it.
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Old 09-12-2018, 03:26 PM
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"Fuck you" implies unwanted sex with violence. Think "Rape you!".
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Old 09-16-2018, 04:21 PM
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Will you be providing it in another post? Perhaps a Youtube video where you explain your cunnilingus techniques via interpretive dance?
Already did. You can probably find it by googling interpretive dance cunnilingus.
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Old 09-17-2018, 10:40 AM
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Already did. You can probably find it by googling interpretive dance cunnilingus.
Monday night plans - confirmed!
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Old 09-17-2018, 01:18 PM
DavidwithanR DavidwithanR is offline
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Normally, etymology relies heavily on finding the earliest printed records of words to help determine what was going on. But for words that were taboo in that time, it becomes much more difficult to find the word printed at all.
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