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Comments by GrantBarrett

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Posted on May 5 at 12:10 p.m.

To add: "Sucker" doesn't seem ever hardly to draw complaints that it's obscene, probably because it isn't and not least because in slang uses it dates to at least as early as the 1860s. Part of the complaints we have here are about changing language, changing perceptions, and changing mores, which means while the etymology of a word is static, it is still unclear, and therefore open to reinterpretation as often current sensibilities permit.

On This Column Sucks

Posted on May 5 at 12:06 p.m.

Actually, no dictionary that you mention or link to connects the slang "suck" to fellatio. Sense 5 in American Heritage is clearly a different "suck," since the definition for what you're describing isn't included in that dictionary at all. Merriam-Webster does have the definition but doesn't mention fellatio at all. While it is still debated regularly, some linguists and lexicographers think that "sucks" as it is currently used, such as "Algebra sucks," without a direct object, is probably *not* derived from longer forms such as "Algebra sucks wingwongs" (euphemized to avoid granny filters). There's no question, however, the transitive and intransitive forms have had confluence, but whether that was at the start of "suck" being used in this way, or later in its varied existence, is impossible to say. There are similar terms, such as sucker, as in "Look at that sucker! That must be the biggest deer in the county!" or "Don't be a sucker, dude. It's obviously a scam." Chief Editor of the Historical Dictionary of American Slang, Jonathan Lighter, has written that he *does* think there was an obvious sexual origin to the intransitive "suck." Sociolinguist Ron Butters generally does not think ther eis enough evidence to make the connection and has written at length on this subject and had an article about it in the journal "Dictionaries" in 2001.

On This Column Sucks

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