Variation of earlier arsehole, from Middle English arshole, arcehoole, equivalent to ass + hole. Cognate with Norwegian rasshøl (“asshole”), Swedish arsle (“asshole”). Compare also German Arschloch (“asshole”). Attested from the 1370s, replacing earlier Old English earsþerl (“anus”, literally “arse thirl”). First recorded in Middle English, as ers hole (Glouc. Cath. Manuscript 19. No. I. , dated 1379, cited after OED), ars-hole (Bodleian Ashmole MS. 1396, dated ca. 1400, ed. Robert Von Fleischhacker as Lanfrank's "Science of Cirurgie", EETS 102, 1894, cited after OED.)
Slang figurative usage dates to the 20th century, of an uninviting place (c.f. shithole) in the 1920s, of an anti-social or despicable person from at least the 1950s (Harvard Advocate 137, March 1954), also appositionally (as in "You're an asshole moralist", T. Chamales 1957)
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Alternative forms 
asshole (plural assholes) (US)
- (vulgar) The anus.
- "... his temper took charge of him. 'You talk as if you were born without an asshole,' he cried to Commander Semmes." (Ira Wolfert, An act of love: a completely retold version of the novel, 1954, p. 54)
- (vulgar, pejorative) A jerk; an inappropriately or objectionably mean, inconsiderate, contemptible, obnoxious, intrusive, or rude person.
- "He philosophised all day about Morandi, Klee, Mird and Picasso, and was such an asshole that he spelled 'cunt' with a 'd'." (Jan Cremer, I, Jan Cremer, 1965, p. 78)
Usage notes 
- Less vulgar and intense than fucker.
- Asshole is an American English form, the corresponding British English form is arsehole.
- While not gender-specific, primarily applied to men; the female-specific bitch is more often used for women.
- See also Wikisaurus:anus
Derived terms 
- Geoffrey Nunberg, Ascent of the A-Word: Assholism, the First Sixty Years, 2012, ISBN 978-1-61039175-7
asshole (plural assholes)
- (obsolete) The place for receiving the ashes under the grate in a fireplace
- John Jamieson, An etymological dictionary of the Scottish language: in which the words are explained in their different senses, authorized by the names of the writers by whom they are used, or the titles of the works in which they occur, and deduced from their originals, 1818