to suss (Was Re: dwarves etc.)

Gregory {Greg} Downing gd2 at NYU.EDU
Wed Mar 7 20:19:19 UTC 2001

At 02:59 PM 3/7/2001 -0500, Beverly Flanigan wrote:
>2) The same article says that "anyone with a television has ... maybe even
>sussed out the connection" between various animal and human brain diseases
>discussed.  Sussed out < suspicioned out/suspected?    The article  has
>multiple authors, but two are from London.  The phrase is totally new to

"To suss out" (from "suspect"; cf. the more recent US "diss" from
"disrespect") and its variants are of long standing in UK colloquial
diction. Suss (v.) is listed as slang by OED2 with a first cite dated 1953.
I heard it when I lived in the UK as a youngster in 1972-74. I figured it
was originally from criminal slang, and it definitely had a downscale/tough
feel to it.

It may be familiar to Americans of the boomer generation or younger from the
UK popular culture that migrated across the pond starting in 1964, e.g.,
"I've got you sussed" in a well-known song from the Who's rock-opera album,
"Tommy." Journalists also seem to have a predilection for UK locutions,
perhaps partly out of the esteem in which N Americans often hold UK culture
and diction and/or partly because of the relatively free flow, in recent
decades, of journalists from the UK (and, since the advent of Murdoch,
Australia) to the US.

Greg Downing, at greg.downing at or gd2 at

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