My question is about the expression "suck on it."

Background (you can skip this paragraph if you want): at Spanish SE we were doing some back-translating of a game we were playing in Spanish. When we were trying to find an English equivalent for "Si os molesta, tirad de esta," a possible translation as "If it bothers you, suck on it" was proposed. This is not an expression I'm familiar with personally.

The only definition of suck on it I could find is from Urban Dictionary:

  1. that's too bad; deal with it; put up with it; tough luck; tough titty
  2. exclamation of triumph when you want to rub someone's nose in it
    BILL: I just missed out on first prize in the lottery by one number. OWEN: Suck on it.
    As you play the winning move in a game of skill or chance against others, you call out, "Suck on it!"

Okay, the UB entry shows a functional definition and examples of how to use the expression. But what I want to know is, when the people in the conversation say or hear the expression "suck on it," is there a specific, implied referent for "it"?

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    I'm sure you can guess what it is! – Andrew Leach Oct 2 '19 at 16:37
  • @AndrewLeach - Yes, but I'm asking if that's always implied when this idiom is used. – aparente001 Oct 2 '19 at 17:47
  • Probably linked in meaning and usage to: en.m.wiktionary.org/wiki/sit_on_it – user 66974 Oct 2 '19 at 18:45
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    There is a related expression "suck it and see". "They have changed the payments system, what shall we do". Answer "Let's suck it and see". – WS2 Oct 3 '19 at 8:07
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    @aparente001 Another figurative use, simply to indicate that the OP's is not a unique metaphorical use of "suck". – WS2 Oct 6 '19 at 18:25

Suck on it! usually implies fellatio.

But, it can be contextually clear you don't mean that.

If your thumb bothers you, suck on it.

It can also be used to say, take that:

I'm right and you're wrong. Suck on that!!

As in, keep that in your mouth and "enjoy" it for a while.

  • Well, my proposal was Like it or lump it. What do you think? – aparente001 Oct 3 '19 at 4:56
  • @aparente001 Seems better to me. I'm not a native speaker, though. – David M Oct 3 '19 at 5:00
  • Hi David, just a minor correction: Spanish "tirar de" would translate to "pull" in English, not "toss". – walen Oct 3 '19 at 6:55
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    @DavidM Not sure if that was sarcasm or not, but no bowing needed, thanks. I just wanted to help :) – walen Oct 3 '19 at 7:36
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    @walen No sarcasm. Just acknowledging that I was incorrect. – David M Oct 3 '19 at 7:36

I decided to transfer what was meant as a comment into an answer because even constructive comments made without malice can be deleted because the author of a post can be offended by them. Political correctness runs both ways.

It's normally "sucking one's thumb" or "thumb sucking" or "(s)he sucks her/his thumb", not "suck on it".

If the burn or cut is minor, you can suggest "try sucking on it". But in the OP's specific situation no one is going to think the speaker is referring to a thumb, a finger, or any suckable part of the human anatomy that is not the male genitalia.

The, primarily, American English expressions, suck it up, suck on it, are supposed to be vulgar.

  • I'd never, nor have I ever, taken offense to any of your comments. You've always posted them in good faith. – David M Oct 3 '19 at 8:16
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    Suck it up isn't really about fellatio to my mind. It's more of a suck in your gut and get going. – David M Oct 3 '19 at 8:17
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    @DavidM I am being "general", it's endemic across SE, meta included. In any case, even supported answers written in good faith are deleted by mods. I am heartily fed up. – Mari-Lou A Oct 3 '19 at 8:24
  • I agree that the comment mods have gotten rather stricter than 5 years ago. – David M Oct 3 '19 at 8:25
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    @walen if the expression if you don't like it, suck on it is devoid of context, it will always suggest rudeness. Whether the listener will always consciously think of the penis, it's impossible to say. This is true for any expression where human genitalia or sexual intercourse is normally implied, e.g. Is it hard? Does the word "hard" only refer to the erect penis? No, but in the context where I used it, was it clear I was referring to that? Yes. – Mari-Lou A Oct 3 '19 at 9:07

It's possible that "suck on it" is related to "suck it up" which means to put up with something unpleasant. It is obscure as to its origins but there are suggestions from wiktionary and the Urban dictionary that it comes from: parade ground instructions to "suck in your stomach" when doing pressups; the expression "suck up your chest" meaning to take a deep breath and throw out your chest or from the necessity for a pilot to swallow his own vomit when he's been sick in his breathing mask.

Neither of these sources is exactly reliable and the idea that "suck on it" and "suck it up" are related is tentative but it is a possible meaning for the expression without the sexual inference.

  • I thought that was a good idea. But then I asked my sixteen-year-old. He said "suck on it" is not the same as "suck it up," and he said the penis reference is exact. He said it's the same as "suck my d---". I asked if young women ever say "suck it up," and he said, sometimes -- but I'm not sure how common that is. – aparente001 Oct 4 '19 at 3:06
  • @aparente001 As a British person I'm not too familiar with "suck on it". I was really working from the OP's original Spanish which was translated to "If it bothers you suck on it" and doesn't sound to me like a context in which anyone would say "suck my dick". I suspect that a more accurate (though perhaps less literal) translation of "tirad de esta" would be "suck it up" rather than "suck on it". It would be interesting to have the OP's reaction. I checked the translation of "tirad" and it is, as I thought with my minimal Spanish, "pull" rather than "suck" anyway. – BoldBen Oct 5 '19 at 10:07
  • Walen already clarified that the English back-translation he provided was a functional, not a literal, translation; and he was aiming for an expression that would match the tone; he also clarified that in the original, the reference to the penis was clear, albeit implicit. Let me know if you can't find that and I will look for it and give you a link. – aparente001 Oct 5 '19 at 15:26

I think the fellatio notion is quite clear:


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



Suck (on) this!, a dismissive or challenging exclamation:

1978 [US] H. Selby Jr Requiem for a Dream (1987) 41: [He] told it in a soft, vicious voice, Suck on this.


  • What about sucking on a lollipop? – Hot Licks Oct 2 '19 at 19:57
  • @HotLicks - a euphemism? – user 66974 Oct 2 '19 at 20:03
  • yes, the literal implication of the penis is indeed clear. That's not what I'm asking. I'm asking, when one uses this expression, is the implication necessarily the penis? Thanks and sorry if my question wasn't as clear as I'd have liked. – aparente001 Oct 2 '19 at 20:45
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    @user067531 - "That sucks" may have had its origin in the sexual meaning, but now the phrase has come to take on a more general meaning. I'm trying to find out if that is also the case with "Suck on it." – aparente001 Oct 2 '19 at 20:53
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    @user067531 - Well, that's what I'm asking -- whether that's the case. // I don't think "suck on this" is the same thing as "suck on it." – aparente001 Oct 3 '19 at 2:18

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