Where does the term 'That sucks!' and putting 'man' on the end of sentences come from? "aw that sucks, man!" Thanks!

  • Your headline lacks a comma.
    – rogermue
    Commented Jul 1, 2015 at 6:38
  • Hi, user127411, and thanks for visiting English Language & Usage. I'm pretty sure that people were putting "man" at the end of conversational sentences long before "That sucks" became an idiomatic cliché. If the use of "man" in situations like this one is the main question you're interested in having answered, it might make sense to focus on it and not on the particular phrase that precedes it. Thanks for considering it!
    – Sven Yargs
    Commented Jul 1, 2015 at 7:32
  • Interesting question. I don't know if OP is coming back, but if he does, and adds a little more evidence of personal effort (i.e. prior research) to his question, we can leave it open. For the moment, I'm going to VtC.
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Jul 1, 2015 at 13:41
  • Man is used to express familiarity or sympathy; in various dialects it might be replaced with brother, bro, dude, buddy / bud, mate, guy, friend, pal, homie / homeboy / homeslice, old sport, and so forth. It is not literal— the other person may not be male, or a friend, hence “I'm not your friend, buddy”, This is probably a duplicate of Origin of “man!”, “(oh) boy!”, and “oh brother”
    – choster
    Commented Jul 1, 2015 at 21:20
  • If the question is about sucks, have a look at Formal alternative for “suck”
    – choster
    Commented Jul 1, 2015 at 21:39

2 Answers 2


The expression that sucks seems to be predominantly connected to the reduction of a colloquial expression for fellatio as it is metaphorically applied to any disgusting or contemptible situation:

Meaning "do fellatio" is first recorded 1928. Slang sense of "be contemptible" first attested 1971 (the underlying notion is of fellatio).
etymonline.com emphasis added

Two alternate expressions have related connotations of disgust and deficiency:

Suck eggs is from 1906. Suck hind tit "be inferior" is American English slang first recorded 1940.

Washing dishes after lasagna sucks [eggs].
Whoever comes in last place sucks [hind tit].

Man is a informal vocative expression that goes back to the 15th century, and was rejuvenated as an emphatic expression in the late 20th century:


informal , chiefly North American
Used, irrespective of the sex of the person addressed, to express surprise, admiration, delight, etc., or for emphasis:

Man also was in Old English as an indefinite pronoun, "one, people, they." ... As an interjection of surprise or emphasis, first recorded c. 1400, but especially popular from early 20c.

  • It wasn't my first thought, but you're entirely right on "man." Think of the Star Trek McCoy, "I'm a Dr. [blahblahblah], man!" vs the Simpsons Bart Simpson, "whatever, man." Though I could be inventing the McCoy part.
    – stevesliva
    Commented Jul 1, 2015 at 5:17
  • Your etymology does not convince. "That sucks" means "That is enervating". Neither your hint at fellatio or at sucking eggs explains anything.
    – rogermue
    Commented Jul 1, 2015 at 6:42
  • Perhaps you didn't notice, @rogermue, it's not my etymology. The notions of contempt, disgust and deficiency are not difficult to apply to the condition of enervating, and I would suggest your personal perception of the phrase is relatively close to the main stream.
    – ScotM
    Commented Jul 1, 2015 at 6:54
  • "Rejuvenated as an emphatic expression in the late 20th century"? I remember using it extensively in the mid 20th century, man. Commented Jul 1, 2015 at 13:54
  • I quote my father, the Sergeant Major, that the expression "it sucks" is not just colloquial, it is a rude and vulgar way to refer to fellatio. I did not let my children use that expression, and I even wrote notes to Catholic school teachers expressing my dismay that they were using it. .......... There was a failed advertising campaign for a vacuum cleaner: "Nothing sucks like an Electrolux."
    – Theresa
    Commented Apr 27, 2017 at 3:16

Etymonline does not explain how to suck in "That sucks" got the meaning of enervating or very bad. But "That sucks" is mainly AmE. Urban Dictionary has something about the use of to suck in the American jazz scene. http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Suck

But "That sucks" seems to have extended its use and to have developed a new meaning.

Edit: Urban Dictionary has a second entry "That sucks". Explains the usage and that the expression is considered a tabu word, but no etymological or semantic explanation. I think that the expression is a tabu word is not very serious and exaggerated prudery. I have the feeling it is a common slang expression used by a special generation.


  • Real but limited merit in my ear. Don Kotas wrote one definition for UD in 2004. Anyone know what his linguistic credentials were?
    – John Smith
    Commented Jul 1, 2015 at 7:27
  • For those who have difficulty with the above comment, Don Kotas is the author of the hint that "to suck" was used in the American jazz scene. He has written only this single post in Urban Dictionary.
    – rogermue
    Commented Jul 1, 2015 at 13:28

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