A popular explanation of how a four stroke engine works is

Suck, squeeze, bang, blow.

The engine sucks in a mixture of fuel and air, then squeezes it together (compresses it), then it burns / explodes that with a bang, and finally it blows out the exhaust.

But who came up with this very simple explanation first?

  • Not to toot my own horn, but I did. :o) Realistically, I wouldn't have a clue, but I use it to describe a four cycle engine regularly and agree it is a very simple and easily understood explanation. Apr 21, 2016 at 16:46
  • 5
    I don't know, but I'd recommend that you be very careful when searching for it on the internet....
    – PeteCon
    Apr 21, 2016 at 17:30
  • 1
    @Pete Yeah, I was thankful I work mostly from home when I googled that. Apr 21, 2016 at 18:18
  • My ex-wife prior to the divorce proceedings ....Lets not go there..LOL :)-
    – Old_Fossil
    Jan 28, 2017 at 5:35
  • I learned it as Suck Squeeze Pop Phooey, which I gotta say, I like better. It's more charmning, and has less sexual connotations.
    – Gbe Nothr
    Oct 17, 2018 at 15:44

1 Answer 1


This phrase has been around very long and has been used in the aviation industry as well as automobile. This is a very good, and more importantly, very easy for anyone to understand way of describing the four cycles of the engine.

Here is an excerpt from an Aviation safety report from 1958:

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Air Safety Forum: Reports Presented at the Annual Air Safety Forum of the Air Line Pilots Association

If this was so widely used as to make it into a safety report for the Airline Association in 1958, it must have been in common usage well before that.

I would venture to say the phrase or a similar phrase probably appeared as cars were becoming a household item and mechanics had a need to start explaining how things worked.

Actually, I wouldn't be surprised if the great Nikolaus August Otto, inventor of the four-cycle engine had a similar saying to explain his engine: Saugen, Drücken, Knall, Schlag...


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