Intuitively, the statement

Yeah, it sucks!

Doesn't seem to be a legitimate statement. Or is it? If it is not then where should I not use such statements? At office? With acquaintances ? With the people you are meeting for first time? With parents? In a social situation?

closed as primarily opinion-based by user140086, cobaltduck, FumbleFingers, Kristina Lopez, Drew Feb 27 '16 at 3:01

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  • What is your definition of statement? – user140086 Feb 26 '16 at 17:48
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    I would not say "it sucks" when talking about a broken vacuum cleaner. It's much more appropriate to say "it blows" in that circumstance. – JEL Feb 26 '16 at 17:49
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    It seems like you might be asking about the politeness of the phrase, or its use in polite company. If so, then it is definitely not appropriate. (It was among the words my mom forbade in the house.) – cobaltduck Feb 26 '16 at 17:52
  • Legitimacy and politeness/appropriateness are two different things- or maybe 3 different things. – Jim Feb 26 '16 at 18:59
  • When not describing a mechanical process of some sort ("The device sucks up the fluid and expels it through the nozzle") the word "sucks" is, at best, "informal", as it alludes to a (what some regard as perverted) sex act. In general, the stand-alone statement "It sucks!" is referring to this allusion and is therefore "impolite". (However, it would not generally be considered in poor taste for casual conversation between your familiars, especially when used to commiserate with another's misfortune.) – Hot Licks Feb 26 '16 at 20:36

The phrase it sucks falls into the broad category of maledictory expressions - terms of abuse or imprecation. It may also be appropriately categorized as profanity.

As originally used, it applies the verb suck in its specific meaning of perform fellatio. In its original manifestation, the expression's sexual connotation and strong denigration made it inappropriate in all but the most grossly proletarian and sophomoric contexts.

Current usage has worn the rough edges off the phrase, however, to the point where some younger speakers will use it in general disapprobation, without thought of the phrase's original metaphor.

Adult speakers in professional or formal situations should treat the phrase with great care. Non-native speakers should exercise extreme caution, perhaps avoiding it altogether.

Before venturing into the territory of profane, maledictory metaphor, one must be keenly sensitive to the setting, occasion and audience. A blunder in this area can be supremely embarrassing - and costly.

It would, to put it mildly, suck.

Consider as a slightly witty, somewhat hackneyed euphemism, "it creates a partial vacuum."


Unless you are literally describing something that sucks (such as a vacuum cleaner) then saying "it sucks" would only be used in informal speech.


Maybe I’m still living in the 20th century, but I wouldn’t use it anywhere. It’s profane. It also has homophobic origins, though most people don’t realize that.

Many people say “that sucks” without considering what it implies. These are often people who don’t consider much of what they say before they say it.

Others say “that sucks” because they think it makes them seem tough. It’s become fashionable to seem tough. People pepper their speech with profanity, and have their bodies covered with tattoos and pierced in particularly painful-looking ways—things only society’s lowest strata would’ve done not long ago.

Some of them do this for the same reason they’ve always done ludicrously imitative things: They seek approval and admiration, and they think they can get it by showing how “individual” they are, in ways that have been pre-approved by the people they seek to impress.

Others do it because the media has brainwashed them into believing the world is more dangerous than ever (even though the opposite is true)—and that if they’re not sufficiently intimidating, they’ll be victimized.

It seems sad. And in some ways, funny. It’s funny to me that we’ve reached the point where someone is even asking a question like this.

There are many ways to express anger or disappointment without graphic sexual imagery. If you’re in doubt, and you’re not desperate to show how imitatively cool you are, I’d use some of those instead.

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