Idiomatic Expressions Involving the Word “Ass”
I have a good number of friends who are not native English speakers. After a while I became aware of the prevalence of phrases involving the word “ass” and their importance in everyday communication. If you are already an accomplished speaker of English then you can bet your ass that you already know these words. Your friends would kick your ass if you didn’t. Indeed, you’d be an asswipe.
There are two basic definitions of “ass”: (1) A donkey or (2) that part of your anatomy between your lower back and upper legs. Few of the following definitions involve the donkey definition; still others have no obvious metaphorical connection to either.
Let’s start with a couple generative formations
[adjective] + ass: “Ass” can be used simply to indicate emphasis. “Strong ass medicine”, “Mean ass dog”, “Starving ass college student” are equivalent to “Very strong medicine”, “Very mean dog”, “Average college student”.
[verb] your ass off: As in “work your ass off” or “laugh your ass off”. To perform the activity to excess. “I thought that Bob was funny but I really laughed my ass off when Ann started telling jokes.” (Thanks to Beau Rostama for this one)
[verb] my ass: Refers to yourself overall; a substitute for just “me” “My boss has been hounding my ass all day” (meaning that your boss has been scrutinizing you, see below. Equivalent to “My boss has been hounding me all day”.). Often [to be] my ass; also [riding] my ass, [hounding] my ass. (Thanks to Clay H for this one).
Then on to the normal expressions
Ass backwards: (also Bass ackwards, back-asswards) To do something in the wrong order, or wrong direction. “She’s got that part installed ass-backwards.”
Assclown: Fool. Also see the UrbanDictionary definitions. (Thanks to J. Clayton Wine and Clay H for this one). Also: assface, asshead. It’s not clear that any of these have any clear meaning except to be an insult (compare with “asshole”, which does have a distinct meaning and is also an insult).
Ass crack of dawn: Extremely early in the morning. “We have to get up and go at the ass crack of dawn or we’ll never make our flight.” (Thanks to Dr. Ami for this one).
Ass in a sling: To be in trouble. “I’ve got to go home now or my wife will have my ass in a sling”.
Ass is grass: In big trouble. “Bob, if you screw up one more time your ass is grass”.
Ass man: Guy who judges women by their butts. Compare with “Boob man” and “leg man”. “Bob is an ass man, but me, I’m a boob man”.
Ass on the line: responsible for an action or decision. “I am concerned about the presentation because my ass is on the line”.
Ass whuppin: A physical beating.
Asshole: An unpleasant person.
Assholes and elbows: This is a phrase used in construction to mean I want to see everyone working really hard. It conjures up an image of everyone bent over working and all you can see is their rear ends and their elbows. As quoted from the movie Aliens: “Allright, sweethearts, you heard the man and you know the drill! Assholes and elbows!” (Thanks to Alice for this one)
Asswipe: Useless person. “Bob is such an asswipe; he can’t even tie his shoes”.
Badass: A bad motherfucker, someone who is to be feared and/or respected. “That guy’s a badass, don’t mess with him.” “She’s a badass mountain biker.”
Bare ass: Synonym for “naked”. (Thanks to Laura B. for this one).
Be an ass: To be an unpleasant person.
Bet your ass: To assert that something is surely true. “I’ll be there, you can bet your ass on it”.
Big ass: Very large. “That’s a big ass hill”.
Bust ass: To work hard; or to fart. “I’ve got to bust ass to get this done by Friday”. “I had beans for dinner so I have to bust ass”.
Candy ass: weak or wimpy in a very lame sort of way. (Thanks to Dawn Sanders for this one).
Can’t find his ass (with both hands) (and a mirror): Exceptionally stupid. “Don’t send Bob on that errand; he can’t find his ass with both hands.” (Thanks to Joe Turpin and Eric Albert for this one).
Chew ass (out): A stern lecture. “My boss chewed my ass out this morning when I came in late”.
Colder than a well digger’s ass: Approximately as cold as a witch’s left tittie in a brass bra. (Thanks to Laura B. for this one).
COMA: Stands for Come out of my Ass, Meaning somthing you just made up. “I didn’t do any real research for this so all these numbers are commas.” (Thanks to Charles for this one).
Cover your ass, CYA: attempt to escape blame. “Bob forgot Ann’s birthday and any attempts to cover his ass failed”.
Crawl up your ass and die: (1) Really really stinky, (2) synonym of “tightass” (3) in a bad mood. “Bob’s got some terrible gas today; I wonder what crawled up his ass and died”.
Don’t know your ass from a hole in the ground: Phrase indicating that this person is clueless and has no common sense.
Drag ass: To go slowly because you’ve got no energy. “I was dragging ass after that big bike ride”. It has been suggested that I made this one up, and a cursory search on Google would seem to indicate it’s not in active use, but I assure you that my friends and I actually use it. That’s just how cool we are. See, if you had a web page like this one, you could put your own pet phrases on it even if Google doesn’t agree. Sorta makes it all worthwhile, eh?
Dumbass: Idiot. Unlike “smartass”, this one sounds like what it means.
Elbow to asshole: Very crowded. “People were crammed into the room elbow to asshole”. (Thanks to William Kious for this one).
Get some ass: To have sex. “Hey Bob, did you get some ass last night?”
Get your ass handed (back) to you (in pieces) / (on a silver platter): To be punished severely. “You’ll get your ass handed back to you if you try that and fail.” (Thanks to Joaquin P. for this one)
Get your ass in gear: To get moving, to get started. “That project is due in a week so I’d better get my ass in gear”.
Give a rat’s ass: To not care. “I don’t give a rat’s ass why you are late”. Also Don’t give a rat’s ass means the same thing. Sorry, English is stupid. (Thanks to Charles for this one).
Grabass: To horse around, to play around. “Those guys are out there playing grabass rather than working.”
Hair up ass: To motivate. “If I get a hair up my ass maybe I’ll get this room painted tonight”. (Thanks to H.M. Alvarez).
Half-assed: Done poorly or incompletely. “I had the painters here last week but they did a half-assed job and I’ll have to finish it up myself”.
Hardass: A strict person. “Professor Robinson is a hardass; nobody makes an A in his classes.”
Haul ass: To go somewhere quickly “I hauled ass across campus to turn in the paper.”
Have a [noun] up your ass: To be uptight, not relaxed, a stickler for rules. Frequently the noun is “stick” or “bug”. “Bob has a stick up his ass and is insisting I use the department template for interoffice memos.”
Head up your ass: Clueless. “I can’t believe my wife was sleeping with the postman; I really had my head up my ass.” (Thanks to Laura B. and PSchmied for this one).
Jackass: Incompetent fool.
Keep your ass down: Derived from a military motivation of avoiding receiving a bullet suppository. More general meaning of keeping a low profile “Keep your ass down in the meeting.”
Kick ass, ass kicker, ass kicked, [noun] kicks ass: The activity of ass kicking is good for the kicker, bad for the recipient. It can be used as an interjection indicating happiness with events, “Kick ass!”, or as a command, “Go kick some ass!” Compare the following well formed idiomatic English sentences: “That hill kicked my ass”, “I’m going to kick my ass up this hill”, “That’s an ass-kicking hill”, and “This movie kicks ass!”
Kiss ass, ass kisser: To “suck up”, to by sycophantic, to flatter. “I was late, so I kissed my boss’ ass”.
Kiss my ass! (also KMA): Screw you! “If he doesn’t like it then he can kiss my ass!”
Kiss your ass goodbye: Your demise. “If you don’t get that work done then you can kiss your ass goodbye!”
Lardass: A fat person. “Twinky was tiny when he was a freshman, but now he’s a lardass.”
Looks like ass: Looks bad. “Your paint job looks like ass”. (Thanks to Laura B. for this one). Variants: pretty much any “[verb] like ass” phrase is not a good thing, eg taste like ass, look like ass, goes like ass, smells like ass, etc.
Monkeys fly out of ass: Impossible, as in “When hell freezes over”. Often used as a retort to an optimist. “I’m going to finish my taxes this weekend.” “Yeah, and monkeys will jump out of my ass.” (Thanks to Alice for this one)
My ass!: Expression of incredulity. “You’re going to get up at 5am? My ass!”
Open a can of whup-ass (or whoop-ass): As appetizing as SPAM, except that the can is metaphorical. Also: To kick someones ass (physically, mentally, emotionally, contests). “I’m gonna breakout a can of Whoop Ass on ya if you grab my girls ass agin”. (Thanks to Troy Coonradt to for this one)
On your ass: (1) Knocked down, (2) Harassing, hounding. “That last hurricane at Mardi Gras really knocked me on my ass”. “My boss has been on my ass about the project due Friday”. (Thanks to Laura B. for this one).
Pain in the ass: A difficult or stubborn person or thing. “Bob is being a pain in the ass about the formatting of the document”. “Washington DC traffic is a pain in the ass.”
Piece of ass: You can get a piece of ass, meaning that you’re having sex. You can also refer to someone as a piece of ass, meaning that they’re (probably) attractive and certainly an object of your sexual attention.
Smartass, wiseass: A person with sophomoric humor. Specifically it does not mean that the person is smart. Bob: “Can you pass the salt?”, Mary: “Yes”, Bob: “Mary, don’t be s smartass; just pass me the salt”.
Smells like ass: Stinky. (Thanks to “The Admiral, Her Glorious Honor, Lady Shannon. The Exalted Slaughterer of Asses” – no really, that’s how the email was signed)
Stick it up your ass: A rejected proposition. “You can stick that contract up your ass!” Can substitute any similar action verb, such as shove, pound, etc. (Thanks to Clay H for this one).
Suck ass: To be no good, variant of “to suck” “That album sucks ass.”
Take it up the ass: To be subjugated. Invokes the anal sex metaphor. (Ed: While none of the phrases are terribly polite, this one is vulgar).
Tastes like ass: Not a quality desirable in food. Usually in reference to institutional cafeteria food.
Thumb up ass: To be inactive or useless. “Don’t stand there with your thumb up your ass, help me carry this”.
Tightass: roughly the same as “Have a ??? up your ass”
Tits and ass, or more often “T&A”: Showbiz term for putting good looking women in an entertainment venue “That movie was terrible, but it sure has a lot of T&A.”
To pull it out of your ass: (1) To be knowingly full of shit, but continue talking anyway. “I didn’t know the answer, so I just pulled some shit out of my ass.” This is distinct from “speaking out of your ass” in that someone speaking out of his ass is usually assumed to actually believe he knows what he is talking about, whereas a person pulling shit out of his ass knows that he has no clue. (2) It can also mean you don’t know why you remember something, but you recall it correctly: “I thought I had forgotten all about biology but I pulled the word Mitochondria out of my ass.” (Thanks to Clay H for this one).
To talk out your ass: To be full of shit; to not know what one is talking about. “Bob thinks he knows a lot about cars, but he’s mostly talking out of his ass.”
Up to my ass: To be full of; have a lot of. “Please, not another assignment. I’m up to my ass in assignments”.
What’s up his/her ass?: What is bothering him/her. “Dave is really grouchy today. What’s up his ass?” (Thanks to Elias F. for this one)
Did I forget an ass idiom? Please send an email to email@example.com. I occasionally go through and incorporate the suggestions into the body of the page. Let me know if you don’t want to be credited, otherwise people are likely to find this page before your resume. Criteria: (1) If I haven’t heard it before I do a google search to see if it’s found on the web. (2) It can’t be truly gross.