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Sucking and blowing

Posted by Bill on February 10, 2010 at 16:23

In Reply to: Sucking and blowing posted by David FG on February 08, 2010 at 18:06:

: : : : : Anyone know the origin of the phrase: "sucking and blowing at the same time"?

: : : :
: : : : Could you be persuaded to tell us in what context we should look for "sucking and blowing at the same time"? Is it possible that you are referring to bagpipers or oboists or some other type of musician? But in the context of a wind instrument there's no sucking and blowing at the same time. What there is is breathing in and puffing out at the same time. It's called circular breathing (q.v.). Some non-Western musicians also practice this.

: : : : Sucking in the sense of sucking at a lollipop or hard candy is possible while breathing, blowing out through the nose. But the phrase suggests sucking and blowing on a grander scale, and hence impossible. It's the sort of phrase you'd expect from Rabelais, in terms of its exaggeration. But I don't imagine that Rabelais, a medical man, would have used that particular expression.

: : : : Yes, I know what you're thinking, David, and stop it!
: : : : SS

: :
: : If we apply a more earthy definition of "sucking and blowing" we find that some things are like a fan: stand in front of it, it blows; stand behind it, it sucks. In this manner things like your job or your friend's sports team suck and blow at the same time.

: I am surprised these bits of slang don't seem to have reached these boards! 'Sucks' is quite well-known, I think, and means that something is unpleasant, or simply 'uncool'. 'Blows' I am less familiar with, but I believe it means pretty much the same.

: In one episode of 'The Simpsons', Bart says of a particularly awful revue staged by the staff of his school: 'this both sucks and blows'.


The context in which I have heard this phrase used in the past is in reference to a person who "speaks out of both sides of their mouth" and, in doing so, makes contradictory statements (to different people/groups of people at different times) for the sole purpose of winning favour (hint: Think politician, as in "sucking up to" (patronizing) and "blowing", as in exaggerated and disingenuous agreement with (once again, in a patronizing fashion).