The habit of saying something "sucks"

I notice that a lot of English learners who come to this site have picked up from Americans the habit of saying something “sucks”.

Please know that this is not a polite expression. It is a shortened version of a longer, very obscene, sometimes very racist expression that should not be said in polite company.

So, if you say something “sucks”, you’ll sound vulgar to a lot of people, and to some people (like me), you’ll sound absolutely obscene. If you want to sound vulgar or obscene, that’s your choice, and you can just ignore me. If you don’t want to sound vulgar or obscene, then don’t use that expression.

Hi Jamie(K),

Bruce here. I didn?t know that expression was so seriously rude.
I don?t want to know the details of it?s origin because as with
yourself I don?t like any sort of below the belt expressions.

I think some people (especially the young) think it is hip and cool to
use such expressions. They can be forgiven in some cases because
we non-Americans usually learn all about how to curse or swear as
we say in GB through the Hollywood films.

Are there any good clean swear words or curses you can share with
us that perhaps when necessary (beside emoticons) we could use?
Interjection … I think is the correct Grammatic expression for them.

The first one that comes to mind is … schucks … (I hope that?s clean!!!).
I mean, I think I heard in on “The Waltons” TV series some years ago.

Here are some good British ones :
… we can class these as negative expressions

  1. Expressions of Soul sensitivities or reflexes (i.e. shock, big surprise)

Oh dear! Oh no! Oh God! Cripes! Heavens above!

  1. Expressions of Intellectual / Mental protest (i.e. indignities, outrages)

It?s outrageous! Goodness gracious! Really! I say! Well!
Good God! What a liberty! Hells bells! Hells teeth! Oh!
It?s just not on! Excuse me! Pardon me! Thank you!

  1. Expressions of Feelings / Emotional reflex (i.e. anger, degradings, disgust,
    resignation, Physical pain, compassion & concern, rejection & disagreement,
    indifference & complacency, command/order/request/encouragement)

(anger, degradings)
Rubbish! Nonsense! Stuff and nonsense!
Codswallop! Shame! Tut-tut! Shame on you! Poppycock! Claptrap!
Bloody hell! Christ almighty! For Christs sake! Hell! To hell with it!
God forbid! Not on your life! Not on your nelly! Tell that to the marines! (USA?!)

Ugh! Yuk! Pooh! Phew!
Phew / Pooh are also used when something unpleasant happens i.e.
… Pooh! / Phew! When did you last change your socks?

Oh well! Heigh ho! Ah, what can you do!

Ouch! Ow! Ooyah! Ooh!

(compassion & concern)
What a pity! There! There! Never mind!
I?m sorry! Come come! Come now! Bad luck! …
… with special emphasis … Really and truly! Once and for all!
That?s that! Honest! I swear it! Take it from me! Mark my words!

(rejection & disagreement)
Certainly not! No way! Out of the question!

(indifference & complacency)
So what! I don?t care a jot (iota)!
What do I care! I couldn?t care less!

Hey! Oi! Ssh! / Hush!
(Be)Quiet! Shut up! Pipe down! Leave me alone! Get lost! Get out!
Clear off! Cooee! Mind your own business! Mind your language!
Mind! Look out! Watch out! Hold on! Hurry up! Get a move on!
Get/Put your skates on! Calm down! Keep your cool! Cool it!
Cool down! … also … No harm done! Go on try!

There is of course a whole list of positive expressions like :

  1. Expressions of Soul, Mental & Emotional & Physical reflexes (recognition
    & agreement, when overjoyed/surprised/applauding, greetings & hospitalities)

(recognition & agreement)
OK! (Okay!) Allright! Right on! Well done!
Good! Good enough! Fine! That?s fine! Indeed! Oh yes! Too true!
That?s settled then! I should think so! I see! Cool! Of course!
By all means! Certainly With pleasure! That?s it! Whoo! whoo!
Hoorah! Whoopee! Whoopee! Hear, hear! Bravo!

(when overjoyed/surprised/applauding)
Goodness gracious! Crikey!
Great! Gosh! Golly! Wow! Good lord! Well I never! Really!
Oh! Tremendous! Fantastic! Terrific! Sound! Fancy!
Just fancy that! You don?t say!

Don?t mention it! That?s quite alright!
Pardon! I beg your pardon! Pardon me! Pardon me? Sorry! Sorry?
I?m sorry! Thanks! Thank you! Thank you very much!
No thank you! Yes, thank you! Cheers! Cheerio! Ta!

Hello! Good morning! Good afternoon! Good evening!
Good night! How do you do! How are you! Bye-bye! Bye! Ta-ta!
Ta-ra! Toodle-oo! See you! … some have even been abbreviated
into an Acronym … one I know comes from the RAF in GB of the 2nd
World War and there after (Alan, please confirm!), it is : TTFN and
means Ta-Ta For Now! … and that is exactly what I have to do now.

So, Jamie(K), I?ve gone overboard with my writing and input again but
I do hope that has helped our readers somewhat!
You will notice that some of these expressions tend to be a bit old fashioned …
… probably about 20% but the rest are pretty valid today in GB.

Best wishes, Bruce.

Yeah, probably “sucks” shouldn’t be used except in the presence of friends and/or people with whom you’re otherwise comfortable (but probably not, you know, your grandma).

I wouldn’t say it’s obscene, though, per se – aggressively grating, perhaps, with definite negative connotations, but not obscene (imo).

This sucks = this is not cool/favorable/enjoyable

He sucks = he is not good (at whatever it is he’s doing) OR he is just not generally good/likeable

I mention these common uses to show that when “sucks” is used in these circumstances, i don’t think people mean to imply the rest of the (obscene) phrases of which “sucks” is a part.

Hmm, I think the word ‘sucks’ has developed into something that is other than its original meaning.

Kids use this word most of the time. I just asked my sister who is sitting in front of me right now whether she ever heard the word on Disney Channel and she said yes.

Though reminding people that it shouldn’t be used in a polite company is a good effort, I think most of us here are adults and we know when or where to use or not use ‘sucks’.

I used it once on this forum and when you write, you are expressing your thoughts. It is different from speaking directly to a person. It doesn’t mean you don’t respect people who read your writings.

Like what Tom said, people use it in front of friends. So it doesn’t mean to disrespect but it means ‘Eventhough it is a negative word, I am comfortable enough around you to use this word in front of you’.

At least for me.

I also think that expressions such as ‘That sucks’ have lost much of their obscene flavor. It is used quite often in informal AmE, and nowadays saying something such as “That sucks” seems to be pretty equivalent to saying “That’s terrible” or “That’s a shame” (as Prezbucky mentioned). It seems to me that you would have to add some additional graphically descriptive words to turn “That sucks” back into a true obscenity.

I do agree, though, that saying something such as “That sucks” should be avoided in a formal or polite context.


Could you cite the whole expression (or give me a link to a site where I can find the explanation if you consider quoting this expression inappropriate on this forum)?

PS: BTW, Russians tend to wrongly use this word, i.e. they say “It is suck” (it happens naturally, because we accociate this word with an adjective due to the fact that we dont have a verb which can express our attitude towards something that is terrible) So it took me some time to get used to the right variant (i.e. it sucks)

If you want people to stop using this word, TVs or Radios in the English language shouldn’t slip a word like “suck”.

The word can be fun though.

Scene: a pub

Event: a football game (soccer or Am football, doesn’t matter)

Description: Fans sit around the bar watching the game and talking (and shouting) among themselves.

Tell me which version you would prefer in such a situation.

With “sucks”:

Tom: Man, where was he trying to go with the ball?
Maury: Yeah, that guy really sucks!
Gene: Well I don’t know if he sucks, but he sure had his head up his arse on that play.
Bill: Nah… he sucks. He definitely sucks. He’s been making sucky plays like that all year.

(kicker trots on for a field goal attempt and misses)

Tom: Way to go, nimrod! You suck!
Maury: Hey, take it easy, not all his kicks suck.
Bill: Yeah, but that one sure sucked.
Tom: This sucks! We’re gonna lose!
Gene: Fellas, we (he means their team…) suck today. Let’s slam this beer and blow this joint.


The version sans “sucks”:

Tom: Man, where was he trying to go with the ball?
Maury: Yeah, that guy really ran ineffectively that time!
Gene: Well I don’t know if he’s a bad player, but he sure had his head up his arse on that play.
Bill: Nah… he’s a bad player. He’s definitely not good. He’s been making bad plays like that all year.

(kicker trots on for a field goal attempt and misses)

Tom: Way to go, nimrod! You’re not very good!
Maury: Hey, take it easy, not all his kicks are ineffective.
Bill: Yeah, but that one surely failed.
Tom: This is unfavorable! We’re going to lose!
Gene: Fellas, we’re playing poorly today. Let’s slam this beer and blow this joint.

If you were watching a game with a few friends… which mode of speech would suit you better – more formal speech without the word “sucks”, or “sucks”-filled rowdy banter?

Is that word used in english,or you just put it there willingly?

I’ll definately take the first version, that sounds real to me, however, isn’t there any other word more or less close to “sucks” that could be used instead of it?