SUCK IT UP! What do these words mean to you?

How often do we hear these words whether at work or with friends?

We hear  parents yelling these words at their kids in a football, baseball or soccer game when they just got walloped!

Is it supposed to be character building, motivational, tough love or kind words meant to build character?

Are these engaging words or words that get people down?  Do you find yourself using them at work or with friends?

What do these words mean to you and has it simply become a way we speak to each other?

Here is what I think it means. Ok I have taken the liberty to make it positive. What’s your take?

Self belief and

Understanding that






Passionate accountability


About HRMexplorer

Managing Director - Human Capital Europe and USA - My ability is to recognize ingrained assumptions and patterns of operation that aren’t productive, and offer practical, cost-effective and value-based solutions.

Posted on September 5, 2010, in HRMexplorer Blogs and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. For those who never heard it, it is a very common expression, especially in communities with ties (past or present) to the military. The US military uses it more than others, but it is definitely something the citizenry of the world took from the dregs of war without even fully understanding.

    If you understand the meaning behind the meaning, this expression makes a little more sense and explains why it is so ingrained in the military.

    During WWI, when chemical warfare was the norm (“Gas, Gas, Gas!”) the hardest part of disciplining soldiers was not getting them to “mask” [which means put on your mask], but to stayed masked. The combination of adrenalin from the stress, the heat of being in chemical gear (which is worse in modern times because of the airtight suit that accompanies the mask), and disorientation, among other stressers caused many a soldier to vomit in their mask. The smell and psychology of being trapped, literally with vomit on your face, just adds to the stress of the whole situation. That caused countless soldiers to vomit again and again until they couldn’t take it, and, in a moment of panic, remove the mask to clean it and breathe in “fresh” air. The effect, if you do this, is to expose yourself to the agent you put the mask on to avoid in the first place!

    “Suck it up” literally meant suck the vomit back in [your mouth] no matter what the taste or your natural reservations to it. This was a means to clean the inside of the mask until you can get accustomed to the smell. (As an aside, after about 20 minutes, the mind ignores a constant stimulus. Which explains why kids can listen to loud music and not notice it after a while – it is just “background static” at that point.)
    And “drive on” means to continue the mission in the hopes of both finishing what the enemy is trying to get you to not do, as well as get your mind off what you just did. In other words, turn the adrenalin and everything else into incentive to fight instead of a crippling physio-psychological retardant.

    Chemical warfare is not only about killing enemy, but at least as much, probably more so, about creating mental shock and weakness in the survivors.

    When you take all that into mind, you see why this is used just as cliché as “give 110%” – which we all know is just most coaches’ way of uncreatively motivating to do more than humanly possible. It really did have a meaning at one time, and did focus people. It now means nothing because few people truly understand it’s history and the truly life and death meaning behind the expression. It is just words you hear time and time again that you know should mean “be tough” from context, but taht no one really explains anymore – probably from ignorance, even of the speakers themsleves. Just goes to show that once things become cliché, they start losing their meaning.

    If you want a positive spin on the expression think of it this way: “Suck it up”: if put to the test, you can do things that, normally, other people, and maybe even you yourself, would cringe and give up against. “Drive on”: but you can not only do the hard thing right in front of you, but accomplish amazing things in the aftermath of adversity.

    Just my personal spin on it. I hated this expression a a kid, more so in basic training. But he once I understood the history (possibly the only thing I enjoyed about being forced through Chemical schools) it actually has more meaning. Hopefully, I helped some of you understand the true impact and it will be more effective when you use it next time.

  2. Hmm. “Suck it up” means “deal with it, get over it and move on”. If you can’t change it, dont waste your time worrying about it, if you can change it…get started!”

    • Thanks Linda, The feedback I am getting is that it is supposed to be “encouraging” The Urban dictionary totally supports what you are saying ” Quit whining, suck it up and drive on. Military slang meaning to just deal with it and quit complaining”

  3. where and when was this phrase invented ? .
    Thankfully I haven’t heard it used , nor would i or use it.
    Would it not be better if we thought what we should say before saying it.
    Would it not be better that parent’s explained that they may have lost a game but it is only a game and there will be many more to play .
    As it says above the player’s door at wimbledon’s center court .
    Yes political correctness has gone beyond ridiculous but there are other way’s of saying and explaining .

  4. I must be really fortunate, I can’t remember when I last heard these words used. However, I kind of like “It’s time to put your big girl panties on”…

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