I can remember that recently I wrote in my journal about the types of movies that I like and at the end I said, “so sue me.” I have a friend who was being silly and wrote a comment with a lot of legal stuff basically saying that his lawyer will come to me with the lawsuit later.
My friend really knew that I was using the phrase ironically to mean, “Say what you like; I don’t care,” when it comes to my tastes in movies. That is the common use of the phrase “so sue me,” today.
However, at first, it would have really been taken as a challenge for somebody to sue another person. Sometimes this phrase was used by a wealthy person to talk down to a person who couldn’t afford a lawsuit.
It seems that the first reference to the phrase, “so sue me” comes from the 1950 Broadway musical, Guys and Dolls.
These are the lines from the play.
Detroit: Serve a paper and sue me, sue me, what can you do me? I love you. Give a holler and hate me, hate me, go ahead, hate me. I love you.
Adelaide: When you wind up in jail, don’t come to me to bail you out.
Detroit: Allright [sic] already, so call a policeman. Allright [sic] already, it’s true, so nu, so sue me, sue me, what can you do me. I love you.
“Nu” in this sense is not the Greek letter. It is Yiddish and many people say that it means, “What did you expect?”
This would make sense as the composer of the song “Sue Me, Sue Me,” in which these lines are found, Frank Loesser, was Jewish. In the film version with Frank Sinatra and Vivian Blaine, “so nu,” is replaced with “you knew.”
While this phrase appeared in 1950 because of the musical Guys and Dolls, the phrase “so sue me,” didn’t enter the common vernacular until the 1990s.
A lawsuit has been going on since 1978 between the Beatles’ record company, Apple Records, and the computer company, Apple Computers. This lawsuit is because of the logo the computer company chose since it is so close to that of Apple Records. When Apple Computers introduced Macintosh 7 in 1991, it included a warning sound named “sosumi.”
Martin, G. (n.d.). So sue me. The meanings and origins of sayings and phrases | List of sayings | English sayings | Idiom definitions | Idiom examples | Idiom origins | List of idioms | Idiom dictionary | Meaning of idioms. Retrieved July 19, 2010, from http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/so-sue-me.html