Suck It Up, Buttercup! - Meaning, Usage and Origin

Have you ever heard anyone say, “suck it up, buttercup!”? Or have you ever used it yourself? If so, then you are probably already aware that it is a common, popular idiom. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re using it correctly or understanding its meaning entirely, though.

Let’s look at precisely what this phrase means and the proper ways of using it in your everyday life. We’ll also examine its origins (they might surprise and even disgust you) and common misuses of this phrase.

“Suck It Up, Buttercup” Meaning

First, let’s establish a solid definition of this idiom. According to Macmillan Dictionary, “suck it up” means accepting an unpleasant or uncomfortable situation. Similar terms that could be used interchangeably are:

  • Get over it
  • Deal with it
  • Get it together
  • Get your head in the game
  • Toughen up

The moniker “buttercup” is tacked onto the end of this phrase for two reasons. Mainly, it’s because it rhymes with “suck it up.” It’s a fun way to round out the phrase, and it’s entertaining for the speaker and anyone listening, if not the person on the receiving end.

For some people, though, this name implies weakness or even femininity. Buttercup is a type of flower, and flowers are often associated with those qualities. Incidentally (or perhaps not), buttercups are poisonous to humans and most mammals.

Examples of How to Use It

There are lots of situations in which “suck it up, buttercup” can be used. These are just a few real-life examples; there are many more.

If you’re a fitness instructor or trainer, “suck it up, buttercup” might be a helpful phrase, indeed. If your class attendees or trainees complain about the exercises you task them with; you can reply, “suck it up, buttercup, it’s for your own good!”

It’s also sometimes useful in a more professional setting. Gently encouraging people to “suck it up, buttercup” can motivate salespeople, independent business owners, and others who need a little bit of tough love.

Parents and other caregivers can use it lovingly with their children and charges as well. Kids tend to whine about things. Using gentle sarcasm can let them know when their complaints are valid rather than when they’re lazy or burdensome without good reason.

Where Did this Phrase Come From?

This phrase isn’t new. It made its appearance in the Urban Dictionary in 2004.

“Suck it up” is even older. That phrase became common during World War II when pilots had to literally “suck it up” if they vomited into their oxygen masks. If not, they risked suffocating on the acidic fumes or choking on the vomit in their lungs.

Once again, “buttercup” got added mainly because it rhymes and because it adds a bit of sarcasm or irony to the phrase and perhaps a bit of an insult to certain people.

Make Sure You Say It Right!

Idioms are fun, but you’ll look like a bit of an “idiot” if you don’t use them correctly. Luckily with this one, it’s pretty straightforward and hard to use improperly. Anytime you want to roll your eyes and tell someone to get over it, “suck it up, buttercup” will likely work.

A parting word of caution: some people may be offended by your use of this phrase. Be sure to use tact and care before saying it to a person in a position of authority or who is very sensitive.

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