The road ends, but the journey continues...

Multiple Meanings of ‘sus’

Multiple meanings?

Who knew? Not me!

According to those in the know ‘sus’ means suspicious.

When author/editor (and friend) L.Marie posted about current slang  used among teens, the term ‘sus’ came up.

My comment to that post went as follows:

“Sus (suspicious)” HA! Had to laugh at this one. As a musician, ‘sus’ is common reference to a suspended chord and/or melodic line suspension. Often said, Csus7 as an example; or There’s a sus on measure 3, forth note.

My comment to L.Marie’s post on current slang

That’s my simplified attempt at using ‘sus’ in a sentence. As a musical, technical, theoretical term go here & here for explanations and examples of suspension.

Excerpts from pop music of where different ‘sus’ chords are used can be heard in the video to the left. Keeping in mind that this is a composition technique used in many other forms/styles of music.

The beauty of this particular musical sound is that once heard, most listeners regardless of musical acumen recognize this in whatever genre of music it is heard.

That sound can now be connected to its name – suspension, or ‘sus’.

Full pop song example of ‘sus’ chords in instrumental sequence (first begins ~ 0.18) – Enjoy the music!


  1. Andy

    Even this side of the Pond we know sus to mean suspicious ?

    • laura bruno lilly

      Yes, but did you know about the musical reference?! HA!

      • Andy

        You’ve sussed me out!

  2. Janis @

    Hi Laura. I’m so happy you commented on my blog because it made me realize that I wasn’t getting notices of you posts. Hopefully I’ve now fixed that.

    I didn’t know about the slang or musical definition of sus. I had heard of (and have used) “suss it out” in a sentence, meaning to figure something out. I have no idea where that definition came from… although I sus-pect it’s fairly current.

    • laura bruno lilly

      Actually, I’ve used ‘suss out’, so looked it up as another possible ‘sus’ word…turns out, it’s spelled with two s’s (as you knew & I found out) I think it’s derived from some British word.
      Anyway, happy to see you back here visiting, Janis!

  3. Marie A Bailey

    I’m happy enough to learn one new thing a day, but today I learned two new things 😉 Thanks to you and L. Marie!

    • laura bruno lilly

      I’m happy you did, too! Thanks for stopping by, Marie.

  4. marissthequilter

    Here’s one of those non musical people who immediately ‘got it’ when listening to the pinball wizard.

    • laura bruno lilly

      Yayyyyy! Brava, Mariss!

  5. zippyquilts

    As I have only ever played the piano, it took a minute to figure this out using a keyboard on my iPad, but I get it now. Always good to learn something new 😀

    • laura bruno lilly

      I’m thrilled you pulled out your iPad keyboard to get a hands-on feel for the ‘sus’ chord! Yes, it **is** good to keep on learning.

  6. Khaya Ronkainen

    I enjoyed this music lesson, Laura. Indeed, who knew that ‘sus’ means has so many meanings! Funny thing, my sisters and I endearingly refer to each other as ‘Sus’ and I have no idea where that came from. Maybe we grew up suspicious of each other. 😀 😀

    • laura bruno lilly

      Hilarious! I’m thinking your ‘sus’ sister term is uniquely your own – sweet!

  7. Jennie

    Now I have learned two things about ‘sus’. Thanks, Laura!

    • laura bruno lilly

      Always learning…

      • Jennie


  8. Cheryl, Gulf Coast Poet

    I am out of my depth here, Laura, but I did enjoy the music! <3

    • laura bruno lilly

      Thanks for reading, Cheryl – and for listening, too!

  9. Jane's Heartsong

    Still don’t get it. Will hang on to this post and listen again later.

    • laura bruno lilly

      Thanks for giving it a try, Jane. And hey, even if you don’t hear it, that doesn’t make music any less enjoyable!

    • Jane's Heartsong

      I could hear the difference, but could never explain it. I get a kick out of meanings in different generations. I was so embarrassed when my Mom , who had always sat under the big hooded hairdryers at the salon, came home and excitedly told me that the hairdresser had given her a blow job. I thought I was going to die. I explained to her that it was a “blow dry” and not to use the “other” term.

      • laura bruno lilly

        Great that the second time around, you could hear the ‘sus’. As for your story – OMG!

        • Jane's Heartsong

          Feel free to delete…a little riske

          • laura bruno lilly

            Thanks, Jane. I re-read it and thought it over and feel you told the story in an appropriate way – relevant to the topic of multiple meanings with a teen twist that got me to remembering a few innocently embarrassing moments such as the one you described. 🙂

  10. Laura

    I had to go check out L. Marie’s slang post. Nope…never heard of those terms. I do live a sheltered life, by choice, so that accounts for a lot of my ignorance. On the other hand, I do talk to my grands, but none of them have used these words in my hearing.
    Thank you for the ‘sus’ education. I enjoyed listening to The Who and Pinball, which does date me somewhat. 🙂

    • laura bruno lilly

      Classic music of all sorts enhances lives no matter the generation!

  11. tierneycreates

    OK this is pretty cool learning about SUS chords in music! I already knew about the other use of the word, as I had recently been around some teenagers?

    • laura bruno lilly

      One thing about sus chords, the meaning will never change. As for the meaning of slangy sus? One can never be too sure!

  12. petespringerauthor

    Thanks for the lesson, Laura. I recognize the guy in the video because 5+ years ago, I went through a phase where I attempted to learn the guitar. I was making slow progress, but the arthritis in my hands told me that ship had already sailed.

    Funny thing about teen slang because this topic has come up often in the stories I’m writing. (middle school children are always trying to emulate teens and copying their language and mannerisms). The debate comes in about using current slang because it may not be in fashion ten years from now, as language is forever changing. Yet, it would seem ridiculous to use terms from the past like “groovy.” Because I’m so hip ?, I’ve actually used “sus” for suspicious in my work in progress. The folks in my writing group, who aren’t writing for kids, have to use context to figure out what some teen slang words mean.

    • laura bruno lilly

      Funny about recognizing the guy in the video – from all the lesson videos out there, his was the one you chose.
      Just so you know, your hand issues are not unique – yes specifics are, but the overarching problem of muscle tension as related to how the guitar is held, arm positions, hand nuances/stretches, etc etc etc is an ongoing element in the playing of the guitar. The guitar is not a user-friendly instrument!
      From one teacher to another – There’s no substitute for hands-on, face-to-face lessons, especially as one begins. If you still want/are driven to learn the guitar, look for an instructor who teaches from a classically based perspective. It is easily applicable to all styles of music and types of guitars. Guitar position changes make all the difference – they don’t solve the medical reasons behind our limitations, but enhance and support playing with those we do have.
      I’d say, try again! If we were in the same town, I’d offer you a free intro lesson and help you on your way to making music on your guitar!

      • petespringerauthor

        Thanks for the offer. I’ll think about it, but to be honest, I think there are other things that are taking priority.

  13. L. Marie

    I didn’t know the meaning of sus that you knew until you mentioned it, Laura! ???? I’m glad to learn something!

    • laura bruno lilly

      LOL! Well, I learned a few new slang terms from your post, too! HA!

      • L. Marie

        Thank you for the shout out!

        • laura bruno lilly

          You’re most welcome!

  14. Marty

    I love this, Laura. I watch musician Rick Beato’s YouTube videos on popular songs, and he’s constantly referring to sus chords. So I’m at least familiar with the term even if I have no idea what it really means musically. Thanks for the explanation. All in a word, eh? 😉

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