03 Aug 2006

Defending “Sucks”


Slate commentator Seth Stevenson argues that the commonly used homophobic pejorative has become legitimized by the frequency of its application, could have other linguistic origins (right!), and is simply too useful to avoid.

Are you offended by the word sucks? Do you loathe the way it’s crept into everyday conversation? Are you shocked that preteen children and primetime television shows blithely employ a vivid slang term for oral sex? Do you wish sucks would just fade away, like other faddish colloquialisms that were eventually discarded?

Well, sucks to be you.

Sucks is here to stay. And what’s more, it deserves its place in our lexicon, for a couple of reasons. First, it’s impossible to intelligently maintain that sucks is still offensive. The word is now completely divorced from any past reference it may have made to a certain sex act…

What’s far more interesting to me is the word’s utility.

Sucks is the most concise, emphatic way we have to say something is no good. As a one-syllable intransitive verb, it offers superb economy.


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