Heard on The Doctors: _bug juice_

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Wed Mar 14 23:56:11 UTC 2012

At 3/14/2012 07:30 PM, Laurence Horn wrote:
>On Mar 14, 2012, at 6:43 PM, Wilson Gray wrote:
> > A doctor explains his use of a term:
> >
> > "_Bug juice_ is doctor slang for 'anti-biotics'."
> >
> >
> > This meaning isn't in HDAS or UD and, as fate would have it, neither
> > is the only meaning for _bug juice_ that I know:
> >
> > "soy sauce."
>Hunh.  For us survivors of summer camp in Maine (early 1950s), and
>probably elsewhere (and elsewhen), "bug juice" will forever
>designate oversweetened (if that's not oxymoronic) kool-aid type
>beverages, almost always red.

I'm one of us, and I extend the region to upstate Vermont and
midstate New York.

The OED does need an update from merely "U.S. slang bad
whisky."  Even Wentworth and Flexner has: "2. Any beverage esp. a
synthetic or artificially colored beverage; any soft
drink."  Although I think they're overly-inclusive -- not "any
beverage" and not "any soft drink", but rather those most colored,
most artificial, and most repulsively sweet.

Chapman is more on target, and has an entymology:  "2. n by 1950s
[right] A synthetic and highly colored soft drink [fr resemblance to
the juice secreted by grasshoppers]"

Larry, do grasshoppers "secrete" your typical red?

My assumption at the time, being a city boy deported to the country
for the summer and not having seen secreting (or squashed)
grasshoppers, was that the name came from the attraction of the
sweet, brightly colored liquid sitting in open pitchers on camp tables to bugs.



> >
> > My WAG is that the StL BE meaning is derived from the
> > soy-sauce-looking liquid that hoppergrasses regurgitate when you
> > capture them, despite the fact that this liquid is itself called
> > "tobacco juice" by boyz n tha hood.
> >
> > Back in the day, Chinese food was absolutely unknown, behind the sun
> > in Marshall. If you wanted to floor-roll your audience with ease, all
> > that was needed was to name any Chinese dish: chop-suey, egg fu-yong,
> > etc.
> >
> > --
> > -Wilson
> > -----
> > All say, "How hard it is that we have to die!"---a strange complaint
> > to come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
> > -Mark Twain
> >
> > ------------------------------------------------------------
> > The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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