What does it mean when someone says ‘that sucks’? In this article, we’ll look at the definition, origin, and example sentences of this common slang phrase.
In short, ‘that sucks’ can be used to express sympathy when something unfortunate happens or to describe something as disappointing, inferior, of poor quality, or worthless.
‘That sucks’ is a slang phrase used to refer to something that is worthless, poor, or inferior or to describe something as unfortunate. It can also be used as an informal way to express sympathy.
Before you start adding this to your vocabulary, though, it’s worth understanding that this is considered a rude phrase. While it might be appropriate in many informal contexts, it’s not a phrase you would want to use in a business email or a formal meeting.
For instance, let’s say that you were excited about going to a concert, but you just found out it was canceled. You might say ‘that sucks’ as a way to express your disappointment.
Another example would be if your friend told you that they’re going to stay home on Friday night because they have a cold. You could say ‘that sucks’ to express your sympathy and disappointment that they won’t be able to join you.
This is one of those phrases where the tone used and the context it’s used in can really change the meaning. The same phrase can come off as sympathetic, casual, mocking, or rude, depending on how it is said.
It’s also worth noting that ‘that sucks’ also has a literal meaning. The word ‘suck’ can mean to pull something else in a particular direction with great force. If someone looks at a vacuum cleaner and says, ‘that sucks,’ it’s possible that they are simply referring to the way the vacuum operates or that they’re claiming it’s an inferior machine.
The slang sense of the word ‘sucks’ was first attested in 1971. This is related to the euphemistic meaning of ‘sucks’ about the act of fellatio that dates back to 1928.
These days, when someone says that something ‘sucks,’ they typically mean that the thing they’re describing is contemptible.
There is another possible origin of ‘that sucks’ that doesn’t relate to fellatio or sexual acts. As related to the word ‘sucker,’ which refers to a person that is easily duped, the word ‘sucks’ might have once meant that a person was easily deceived or naive.
Though ‘that sucks’ is considered rude among certain company, it isn’t really a swear word in American English either. It’s common for parents not to allow their young children to say the word ‘sucks’ and for it to be discouraged in schools. You probably don’t want to say it to your boss unless you have a fairly informal relationship, either.
How would you use ‘that sucks’ in a sentence? Here are some examples.
There are a number of other ways you can convey a similar meaning as the one implied by ‘that sucks.’ Here are some other options:
Are you on a mission to learn as many new idioms as possible? Make sure you check out our idioms blog!
It's important to share the news to spread the truth. Most people won't.