USA Today on "sucks "

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Sat Oct 1 03:52:32 UTC 2005

On 9/30/05, Douglas G. Wilson <douglas at> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       "Douglas G. Wilson" <douglas at NB.NET>
> Subject:      Re: USA Today on "sucks "
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> >Why doesn't "eat" work this way? "John sucks/blows" doesn't require a
> >surface object, but "John eats" does. This has only a literal meaning.
> >But "John eats it" has both a literal reading and a slang reading,
> >which slang reading is ambiguous. "John eats it" can mean that he
> >enjoys performing fellatio and/or cunnilingus/cunnilinctus or that
> >he's into scat.
> I have heard "eats" used in more-or-less this way, with no explicit object,
> as early as 1967 or 1968, e.g., "This really eats" (= "... sucks" = "...
> blows" = "... bites"). I don't think "John eats" works because it sounds
> habitual and everybody would admit to habitually eating (not everyone would
> admit to habitually blowing or sucking, maybe).
> -- Doug Wilson

I did not know that. During part of the '60's, I was back in black, as
it were, and I lost track of white slang. BTW, in a much earlier post,
I made reference to the phrase, "step on one's dick." A few readers
took this to mean that a man was possessed of genitalia so gigantic
that it was impossible for him to walk without stepping on his penis.
Actually, "step on one's dick" means almost the same as "put one's
foot in one's mouth." The idea is that a person is so oafish in speech
and/or action that, given the right circumstances, he would somehow
manage to be so clumsy as to tread upon his own dork, an action
normally beyond possibility. What this has to do with white slang is
that, AFAIK, this turn of phrase *is* white slang. I learned from a
white buddy and I've never heard it used by blacks, despite the fact
that "he stepped on his dick" is far more colorful <har! har!> than
"he fucked up good-fashion."

-Wilson Gray

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