A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from December 10, 2013
“The suck”

’The suck” is a popular U.S. Marine Corps expression for a miserable situation or place. “That’s what the suck gives you” was cited in print in 1979, but there is oral evidence that “the suck” was used in the late 1960s. “The suck” became a popular expression during the Gulf War in the early 1990s.

Related terms include “fuck the suck” (FTS) and “embrace the suck.” The spelling “teh suck” has been cited in print since at least May 2001.


Wiktionary: Glossary of military slang
suck, the
(U.S.) The field, bad conditions, rotten duty, used to describe the military as a whole. One might say “embrace the suck” to tell someone to stop complaining and accept the situation.

Wikipedia: List of United States Marine Corps acronyms and expressions
the suck – miserable situation or place, often used to describe the Marine Corps or a combat zone.

Google Books
They Should Have Served that Cup of Coffee
Edited by Dick Cluster
Boston, MA: South End Press
1979
Pg. 171:
I’d met Marines hitchhiking up to Los Angeles for a rock concert who bragged of getting Ho Chi Minh discharges. “That’s what the suck gives you when you’re caught leafleting or rabble-rousing, and you get to be more trouble than you’re worth.”

Google Books
The Cadillac of Six-by’s
By Reverge Anselmo
New York, NY: HarperCollins
1997
Pg. 21:
The colonel made a speech: “This is the day I thank God that I belong to the Marine Corps, and that all of you men here belong to me. We are in the Suck as one. I will toast this day, and you will toast it with me, And Lebanon will toast us all together.”

Shack News
Asus driver petition
booyaka
asus si teh suck. Haven’t they learned ?!
May 17, 2001 9:37am PDT

The Special Operations Community Network
Ranger school difficulty vs BUD/S & SFQC
justagrunt
7 August 2001, 15:30
(...)
I would say I’m about 85% of the way to being in the shape that I want to be in when I leave to go take on the “SUCK”.

planetcrap
#21 by “Gabe”
2002-02-22 17:24:35
OpenCrap is teh suck!

AnandTech Forums
SoylentGreen
11-12-2002, 02:34 AM
How can you like this? Anime is teh suck!
I mean, people fly around, fight, have light. How ghey!

The Internet Movie Database
Synopsis for
Jarhead (2005)

The film begins with voice-over narration on a black screen, as Anthony Swofford (Jake Gyllenhaal), waxes philosophically about a soldier whose hands forever remember the grip of a rifle, whatever else they do in life. Swofford is then shown in a U.S. Marine Corps boot camp, being brutalized by a drill instructor in a scene reminiscent of Full Metal Jacket. After finishing boot, “Swoff” is dispatched to Camp Pendleton in 1989, where he is subjected to a cruel joke played on him by the senior Marines. This involves branding onto him the initials of the United States Marine Corps, USMC, with a hot iron. This is a popular tattoo amongst Marines. He faints upon sight of the iron. After regaining consciousness, he realizes to his relief that the senior Marines had switched the hot iron with another room temperature iron. He is greeted coolly by Troy (Peter Sarsgaard), who says to him, “Welcome to the Suck.”

Google Books
Warlord:
No Better Friend, No Worse Enemy

By Ilario Pantano
New York, NY: Threshold Eiditons
2006
Pg. 37:
In the 1990s, we called the Marine Corps “the Suck” just as grunts in Vietnam had called it “the Crotch.” That was our boyish response to going to war.

Urban Dictionary
the suck
Slang used for the Marine Corps by Marines only. No one knows when it started. Very popular during and after Vietnam.
I’ve been in the suck for over twenty years.
by Michael in New Hampshire March 10, 2006

Urban Dictionary
the Suck
Unofficial slang term used by the Marine Corps. Defines any situation in and around a war time conflict where conditions are undesirable. Also known as “The Shit.”
“Welcome to the Suck...” or “You are in the Shit...”
by “...the fallen!” August 07, 2008

Leatherneck.com—Forum
Garyius
06-16-10, 08:08 PM
“Unsat", Suck, and the Corps
There have been several threads here over the last months about being a real Marine, fake Marines....

Anyhow, I think the real test is our language. And it changes.

First few weeks of boot in 87, ‘unsat’ was something I wasn’t quite sure what they were saying…

‘You muther****ers are muther****ing unsat muthers unsat bullshet notgoing fly unsat...’

Then our generation used the ‘Suck’ to call the Corps. FTS. The Suck. Earlier Marines I drink with now that I am old call it the Crotch or the Green Weenie, but that is their time.

newton8124
06-16-10, 09:07 PM
I got out in 87 and I guarantee you those terms where well in use before i went in hence way before you went in.

advanced
06-22-10, 06:10 AM
In the late 60’s we used all those terms except unsat, that’s kinda new to me.

Izzame2
06-25-10, 07:08 AM
There’s some oldies but goodies in this thread.I was in in 77-81 and remember FTS, eat the apple but,"F" the Corps.

OCLC WorldCat record
Welcome to the suck : narrating the American soldier’s experience in Iraq
Author: Stacey L Peebles
Publisher: Ithaca : Cornell University Press, ©2011.
Edition/Format: Book : Biography : English

Slate
LEXICON VALLEY
A BLOG ABOUT LANGUAGEDEC. 13 2013 10:51 AM
Nancy Pelosi Told House Democrats to “Embrace the Suck.” Where Did That Phrase Come From?
By Ben Zimmer
(...)
A more common—but less printable—expression for the Vietnam wartime experience was “the shit”: facing combat (as anyone who’s seen Full Metal Jacket or Rushmore knows) was known as “being in the shit.” “Suck,” on the other hand, was on the rise among those sent off to fight primarily as a verb to signal coarse disapproval. Graffiti scrawled on the canvas bunk bottoms of troop transport ships shows ample evidence for both transitive “suck” ("the Army sucks dick") and the less vulgar intransitive ("the Army sucks"). But as a pejorative noun, “suck” had yet to achieve much prominence.

That changed by the time of the first Gulf War in the early ‘90s. Anthony Swofford’s memoir Jarhead links “the suck” to the Marine Corps serving in the Gulf. From his fellow Marines, Swofford heard “manifestos against the Corps—the Suck, as they called it, ‘because it sucks dicks to be in it and it sucks the life out of you.’” When Jarhead was made into a movie in 2005, posters featured the tagline “Welcome to the suck.”

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityGovernment/Law/Politics/Military • Tuesday, December 10, 2013 • Permalink