I used that word on the air today.  Chuck and I were discussing Mike Francesa’s rant about baseball players taking paternity leave.  I said that during things like the playoffs or the World Series that missing the birth of a child might be inevitable, and “that just sucks”.

A short time later, I received the following email:

“I'm an avid listener of yours and I find you to be smart and articulate!!  That was spoiled this morning during the discussion of maternity and the baseball player.  You used the phrase ... "It sucks."  That brought you way down, in my opinion and I just hope you discontinue with that crass language.   Seems the kids (and some adults) use that because they lack a strong vocabulary....”

Is the word profane?  Vulgar? Offensive?  Or is has it lost its original crude association and become synonymous with “stinks”?

The English language is constantly evolving.  Many words that were once considered profane no longer are.  Words like damn, hell and even jackass were once considered “bad words” and have now become rather acceptable.  Many words have lost their previously profane associations.

The word “sucks” as it was used in this context, no longer references a sexual act. It means something disagreeable or disappointing.  I'm 41, and in my lifetime, that word has ALWAYS had the latter meaning. To my generation, “That sucks!” has always been a stronger form of “That stinks!”.  When talking about missing the birth of a child, somehow “That stinks” isn’t quite strong enough.

Conversely,  words that used to be fairly innocuous have, over the years, taken on a different meaning. Gay, for example, stopped referring to “happy” about a century ago.  Retard no longer means “to slow” or “to delay”.  Instead, it is an offensive term to describe some special needs individuals.

Each year, new words are added to the dictionary, and new definitions are added to existing ones. 

So, given the societal and contextual changes, do you still consider the word “sucks” to be crass or profane?