to suss (Was Re: dwarves etc.)

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Wed Mar 7 07:36:32 UTC 2001

Let that old Mr. Fuddy-Duddy, Jesse's foil on last night's 60 Minutes
II show, put that in his craw and smoke it.  American slang ruining
the grand old mother (country) tongue indeed.


At 3:19 PM -0500 3/7/01, Gregory {Greg} Downing wrote:
>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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