that sucks

Dennis Preston preston at MSU.EDU
Fri Mar 28 00:03:10 UTC 2008

Yes; Ron is right. We had no "X sucks" forms in the 50's, just the
friendly adolescent banter that included such friendly commands as
"suck my dick," hence my surprise (and my friends) at such emerging
new forms as "the earth sucks," which I remember distinctly relating
to the earlier sense when it appeared.

I'm not sure how Rop and I can throw down on a dirty mind contest.


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>Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>Poster:       RonButters at AOL.COM
>Subject:      that sucks
>I'm not sure what it is that Dennis is remembering here from his adolescence;
>"X sucks" = 'X stinks' was not in use in the 50s, and not widely used until
>the late 60s and early 70s. Sounds like post facto codger
>etymoloogizing to me!
>If my memory is correct, people did sometimes say things like, "Does she
>suck?" meaning "Will she fellate one?"--but it was used only for people.
>I am about the same age as Dennis, and like him I remember being confused in
>the late 1960s at something someone had written on a bathroom wall: "The
>Universe sucks." But not merely because I could not imagine the
>universe fellating
>someone--this use of 'sucks' simply did not compute with ANY of my known uses
>of "suck" ("suck up to," "suck the gravied finger," "suck eggs," etc.)--except
>that they all were pejorative. There was no reason for me to focus on oral
>sex (and I think I have as dirty a mind as Dennis!).
>In a message dated 3/27/08 6:39:47 PM, preston at MSU.EDU writes:
>>  Us 50's kids (well, teenagers) knew exactly what sexual act was
>>  referred to; the first time we saw "The earth sucks," we didn't know
>>  quite what to make of it.
>>  dInIs
>Create a Home Theater Like the Pros. Watch the video on AOL
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Dennis R. Preston
University Distinguished Professor
Department of English
Morrill Hall 15-C
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48864 USA

The American Dialect Society -

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