Heard on The Doctors: _bug juice_

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Thu Mar 15 01:26:36 UTC 2012

On Mar 14, 2012, at 7:56 PM, Joel S. Berson wrote:

> 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.
> Joel

My assumption too: juice for bugs, not from them, i.e. bug juice as in horse shoes, not alligator shoes.  And it worked, although it should be noted that in the Maine lake country it didn't take much to attract bugs.


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