Lastly, since someone is bound to ask, “suss” as you used it to mean “figure out” originated as police slang in the UK around 1953. It comes from “suspect” and originally meant “to suspect a person of a crime,” but it broadened to meaning “to imagine or surmise,” finally reaching its modern slang sense of “to understand or explain.”

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3 comments on this post.
  1. Holger:

    “… among the dry ricks of sea-weed …” – reeks of reeks, then?

  2. Chris Adams:

    I want to thank you for this outstanding explanation about “reek”. I stumbled upon this in a search as the meaning was driving me nuts as I was reading a John B. Keane short story called “The Reek”. I THINK they are piling bog sod in the story, for later use as home burning fuel. Thanks! Chris Adams, Rochester NY

  3. Steve Moxon:

    The explanation is simpler, methinks.
    From several examples of very steep-sided hills in Ireland and Scotland, Reek is Anglicised Gaelic cruach, which in its meaning of ‘heaps up’ denotes both a steep-sided hill (a ‘stack’) and a rising pall of smoke. Hence the confusion in the naming of Edinburgh as Auld Reekie. Arthur’s seat is a classic case of a stack, so cruach Anglicised denoted Edinburgh, and this latterly was rationalised in terms of the palls of smoke shrouding the growing, industrialising city.

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