Word Origins, Anybody?

L. Bird pkeets at hotmail.com
Sat Feb 19 22:10:42 CST 2005


>February 19, 2005

Since you asked
What’s all the ‘suss’ about?
I’ve heard the word "sus" several times recently. The first time I thought 
maybe I heard it wrong. From the context, I think I’ve figured out it means 
"check out," "surmise," "figure out," "analyze" or "discover." But does 
anybody know where it comes from?

— Daniel N., Central Point

You have the meaning, Daniel, and it’s spelled with a double "s."

The origin is pretty simple. The word first turned up in the early 1950s in 
England, where it was used by cops and crooks as slang for the verb 
"suspect" in much the same way that "perp" would come to be used for 

By the ’60s, suss was widely used in the U.K. It had turned up on our side 
of the Atlantic by the 1970s. The Who’s 1969 rock opera "Tommy" may be 
responsible. It contains the line, "I’ve got you sussed."

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