Interesting, ruzuzu, however, it is not clear from OED Online whether "suck eggs" is used as a put-down. I believe if "go suck eggs" is used in such a way today it is because it is a substitute for the more vulgar counterpart, and that its meaning has therefore changed in light of the newer (1928 according to OED) usage of the word "suck". Furthermore, the Tom Sawyer reference seems to imply sucking eggs is a good thing, implying one has the courage to run up and steal eggs. Thanks for the comment.
There's the old "that sucks eggs," which the Online Etymology Dictionary suggests originated in 1906, though another site points out that "suck eggs" was used by Mark Twain in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer in 1876.
GrantBarrett: - I don't see your point at all. The USA Today article makes the vacuous statement that the word "sucks" has a non-sexual meaning - of course this is obvious. What I want to see is someone to provide a usage of the term "sucks" that can show a lineage to another sense of the word other than the homosexual oral sex provider sense, which also represents some negative association. I don't believe such a usage has ever existed outside the underlying denigration of homosexual male activity.
My chain of reasoning is solid - male homosexual behavior of the "receptive" or "passive" kind is given negative connotations by the majority of human societies throughout history; thus references to such acts are used as derogatory phrases used to put down another person (or oneself) by implying that the other person practices such behavior and is therefore of lower status. Similar linguistic connections are made when someone says "f*ck you" or "we are screwed".
I am open to new evidence and will concede the point if it appears to be valid, but I don't think it exists.
I did not mean to create such a controversy with this, but I must say I find this discussion most interesting - one of my favorite topics is swear words and their meaning. Also just swearing a lot, which unfortunately I do.
Hmm, it's interesting that you draw a link between sexuality and oppression regarding one's desires. The consensus of your friend group may not be enough statistical evidence to make absolutes about choice. While I'm not arguing with you per se, I would suggest that there's more nuance to the issue--that attraction, sexuality, and the degree that one acts on that has a multitude of cultural variables that may shape one's experience beyond just raw genetics.
Well, I know I'm straight and I KNOW I didn't 'choose' that at all. It's just me. My gay friends say the exact same thing about their sexual orientation, so that's what I'm basing my logic from. I've had many gay friends in my life too that say the exact same thing! So, honestly I don't know myself, but I do trust what my friends told me as being the truth, they had no reason to lie about it.
Oh, I almost forgot.. the most important thing that made me believe them was that they all pretty much said that they wished they weren't gay! Some of them had terrible times and were disowned by their own families! Why would someone choose that? They all pretty much expressed a longing to be straight! So it's not only believable, but rather humbling to be honest if you ever become friends enough to have this conversation.
I don't think of this expression as specifically referencing homosexual men (someone can "go suck a lemon" just as much as other things...), but I must say that I appreciate this type of conversation--investigating implied meaning.
With 'gay', I've argued in this regard many times with friends who've used "gay" to mean "bad,"--they claim that the linkage is not what they mean. So the question of intent versus passive, unaware delivery of abusive words.
I find this phrase kind of banal, aesthetically.
This isn't related to this phrase but it's something I wanted to note because marky brought it up below: the "I was born with it" homosexual defense. I think this argument could be 'true,' certainly it's a sentiment that some of my gay friends have suggested about themselves, but I always felt like it was a weak defense because it shouldn't matter. People can "decide" to be gay and they deserve just as much legitimacy either way, just like those of a particular religion (another choice...at least in adulthood) might expect to be protected under the law.
Yes there are the rare cases where people are both! I didn't used to believe that, but now I do. Even as your friend experienced a change later in life, it does happen! But these traits were in her, and gay women have a different dynamic than gay men and thus different reasons for being simply 'the way they are'. It takes all types to make the world go round. Just like we have different physical traits, same goes for psychological! IMO. :)
Re: marky's comment, I've received some fascinating commentary about that from a friend of mine, one of the smartest people I know, who some time ago stopped being a lesbian and now raises two children... Most of it probably wouldn't fly here, so I won't bother to repeat it; still, as I said, it's a fascinating point of view...
thtwonse, you've got it wrong. Sexual connotations of that particular meaning of "suck" are more recent than the usage itself. It did *not* originate as a put-down related to imbalanced sexual power between men of the pitcher/catcher or bull/punk types. See this comment I left elsewhere.
Regarding homosexuality, anyone who condemns it is more than likely ignorant to the fact that homosexuality is inherent to a person's personality from birth. They still think a person can be 'cured' and that they are choosing to be homosexual, which is really unfortunate! Thankfully this way of thinking has changed drastically over the past 10-15 years thanks to more openness about the subject and better communication methods like the internet!
Briefly, in response to ththownse question, I'd like to point out that society is almost split when it comes to attitudes about homosexuals. Indeed, the world in general's almost split. Canada legalised homosexual marriages for example, though the rest of the world hasn't. What you have, is one part of society condemning homosexual behaviour, not, I think, for its 'vulgarity', but rather for the way that it defies the 'laws' of conventional marriage and sexual relations. However, there is a part of society that is all about acceptance and they fully support homosexual behaviour.
You cannot seriously mean that society does not frown on male homosexual behavior? The origin of these kind of terms is in the lower status of a man who played the passive role in male-male sexual encounters - this is historically documented. Hence "sucks" became a generic put-down for a man and from there evolved into a general term for anything bad.
Never thought of this as having homo-connotations or as being especially offensive. I agree with marky. I'm also not sure that society disapproves of men being "passive" during sex. Of course by society we can mean many different groups. But the girl-on-top "titshot" has been a Hollywood staple for a while now.
I have to totally disagree with your interpretation of this being homosexual in nature. You're talking about oral and anal sex (I'm assuming) and if that's the case, straight people do that just as much as gay men (or women for that matter). So I don't think it's offensive in that manner. IMO.
It is always easier to criticize than to suggest a better alternative, so I must confess I did not get that far in my thinking. Perhaps what bothers me other than the gay-slam aspect of it is its inherent vulgarity - to me it belongs in the "not-said-on-TV" set of words and phrases. I enjoy a good cuss frequently and don't like to see the value of my profanity cheapened by its increasing acceptability in popular culture. If I can't be offensive what's the point of cussing?
It is derogatory against gay men because creates a connection with some bad thing (the thing that sucks) with a particular sex act, which in this context is between two men. It is a gay act because that is the kind of sex which we as a society put down. The same thing happens with "f*** you" and "a**hole". All of these things put down a homosexual act and are used in a negative way.
I understand your frustration, but in order to change the current trend and memetic usage of said phrase, you must suggest a viable alternative and then start using it everywhere possible. So what do you suggest?
also, how is this derogatory towards homosexual men?
Incidentally I'm always correcting people on the misusage of the term 'gay' which has ironically taken a negative connotation in our society even though the current trends are very accepting of homosexuality and the original meaning of the word is to be 'cheerful'. Anyone who uses it in negative connotation I quickly label as an 'unhappy homophobe'. :)
I am suck and tired of OOPS sick and tired of this expression. It is now widely accepted in normal conversation and print despite its ignominious definition, and to say nothing of the pejorative meaning (putting down homosexual men) that drives its usage.