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therealsnape in hp_britglish


I'm wondering whether two expressions in one of my stories are Americanisms.

1. He's a sucker for ...
(Speaker is a Prefect telling a younger member of his House about the foibles of a teacher; timeframe: somewhere around 1985.)

2. Yikes!

Could you enlighten me? Thanks!


I would consider those both to be Americanism, especially "He's a sucker for..." and especially in 1985. You could try "He's a one for..." or "He's really keen on..."
But "he's really keen on..." doesn't mean the same as "he's a sucker for..."

I take "he's a sucker for..." to mean "he's easily fooled by...". I'd say "he's a sucker for a pretty face" for a man whose critical faculties wilt in the presence of an attractive female, such that he's more likely to believe anything she says and do whatever she asks.
Yeah, that absolutely true and in retrospect I have no idea why I suggested "he's really keen on" as an alternative. I think ignoring everything I said in my previous comment would be a sensible course of action!
That sense of 'wilting of critical faculties' is exactly what I need in the situation in question. I'm glad you don't think of it as a typical Americanism. What you describe here is so precisely what I want to use it for. Thanks!
I have no idea whether "Yikes" might be considered an Americanism, but to me it's rather old-fashioned. To me it says 1950s or 1960s.

I don't think of "He's a sucker for..." as being an Americanism. That doesn't mean it isn't, just that I've heard it used in this country enough times over enough years that I don't recall a time when it was new.
"Yikes" is fine, but old-fashioned - I used to say it as a little kid in the 70s and I don't think I've heard it since.
Yes to the first. It's not so clear about Yikes!, since it is very close to the old Yoicks! that was (a) an old fox-hunting cry when the fox was sighted (apparently!) and (b) a staple term in children's books based in boarding schools and set in the 1920s and 30s.
I never thought of the connection betweeen 'yikes' and 'yoiks.' I still say 'yikes' myself. Sometimes it is the word for the job.

(Occasions like 'oh that bruise is 3 times the size I thought it would be' or 'then i told my boss what I really thought of him')

Now I am imagining Regency gentlemen saying 'yikes.' Hee...
It would be used in a sort of "then I told my boss what I really thought of him" sort of situation. And the person saying it is one of the adults in the Potter-verse. Teacher-generation. So I guess the slightly-old-fashioned aspect would be all right - they might still use the expression. Thanks!
As others have said, 'yikes' is fine but 'sucker for' is not.

You could use 'he's mad for..', 'he's idiotic about...' or, most colloquially, 'he's bonkers about...'
Perhaps for 'he's a sucker for...' you could use 'show him a X and he's anybody's' (NB distinct sexual connotation here) or 'show him a X and he's putty in your hands', or something like that...
I think we used 'sucker for' at school in 1985 (Mr W was a sucker for a good sob story). 'Falls for' might work if people think it's too American though - he falls for that story every time.
Yikes is back in fashion - Boris Johnson says it umpteen times a day.