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"Ass" meaning "stupid person" is not a shortening of "asshole"; it's by analogy to the stubborn and learning-resistant donkey or mule. For instance, British speakers use "ass" in the sense of "stupid person" despite using "arse" (and "arsehole") for the anally-related meanings. – June 2003

Yes, I agree. The message above seems to have been written 3 years ago, but even now the article says that "ass" as in "fool" is associated with "ass" as in "bottocks", and that is just wrong. I even seem to recall a line from Shakespeare where someone is called an ass. The history of calling someone an ass (as in donkey) far predates usage of "ass" (as in buttocks). It occurs not just in English, too; the ancient Romans used to call people "asinus". – Andyluciano 19:02, 25 January 2006 (UTC)

Heterosexual definition[edit]

Why does the second definition of "ass" assume that anyone using it is a heterosexual male or a lesbian? The list of synonyms is even worse.

Peter Isotalo 15:43, 8 May 2006 (UTC)

The goal is to reflect how language is used, not to be politically correct - bowing to the whims of the LGBT community. OTOH, an additional meaning could be listed that is specific to closed LGBT contexts. --Connel MacKenzie T C 16:01, 8 May 2006 (UTC)

If you are referring to "(vulgar slang): Women, particularly when considered as a sex object." then I agree that it ought to be "A person" rather than "Women", because "Women" can get some ass too...or a gay guy...but I don't think a golden retreiver or a toaster could, so A person should work. - TheDaveRoss 16:10, 8 May 2006 (UTC)

It just means "sex". "Women" or other such qualifications in the definition just sound awkwardly homoerotophobic. Fixed. Rodasmith 16:29, 8 May 2006 (UTC)
"LGBT contexts" is as much part of everyday languae usage as that of straight people and I don't see anyone excluding slang used by major ethnic groups who speak English. Excluding groups of speakers isn't just politically incorrect, it's also gives a skewed description of a language.
Peter Isotalo 11:21, 3 July 2006 (UTC)


I've seen "ass" as a verb roughly meaning "bother", as in "he couldn't even be assed to write me a note." I don't have any experience editing Wiktionary; what's the proper procedure to get this on the page? 18:13, 23 June 2009 (UTC)

The British slang equivalent is fairly common, as in "couldn't be arsed". I've only ever seen it used in the passive. 00:43, 26 February 2010 (UTC)

Pronomial usage[edit]

Currently we give the sixth definition (second sense) as "oneself", which (to my way of thinking) implies that it is used only reflexively: "Get your ass in gear", "Move your ass on out", "He's dragging his ass", etc. But anyone acquainted with today's speech knows that "my/your/his/her/their ass" may also be used non-reflexively in a wide variety of grammatical positions: "Mr. Big put a hit out on your ass", "Somebody needs to fact-check his ass", "Your ass is getting its ass handed to it". In these sentences, which are all plausible 21st century English utterances, "ass" is clearly not equivalent to a reflexive pronoun: *"Mr. Big put a hit out on yourself", *"Somebody needs to fact-check himself", *"Yourself is getting its ass handed to it". On the contrary, the closest literal equivalent to this sense of "ass" is "person": "Mr. Big put a hit out on your person", etc. Accordingly, I would suggest changing the sixth definition (second sense) from "oneself" to "one's person". I would have been so bold as to make the change myself, had the page not been locked. LANTZYTALK 22:26, 24 August 2009 (UTC)

Use in Australia[edit]

While the form "arse" exists in Australia and is the traditional form, "ass" is used so overwhelmingly nowadays that one can't seriously suggest that "arse" is the dominant form, as this page does. Sabretoof 21:29, 18 September 2010 (UTC)

euphemism for "arse" an urban legend?[edit]

Apparently the often-heard claim of the spelling (and pronunciation) "ass" for "arse" being a euphemism due to US prudishness is an urban legend. The spelling (and pronunciation) in fact developed before the existence of the American colonies and is part of a linguistic process that can also be observed in many other words with -rs- (e.g. burst/bust, curse/cuss, horse/hoss, barse/bass). The main cause seems to have been the development of non-rhotic pronunciation, which made "arse" sound like "ass". Some of these changes happened as early as in late Middle English, when barse became bass, for example. "Bust" in the sense and pronunciation derived from "burst" was specifically a US invention, which happened in the mid 18th century (New Oxford), so it seems that r dropping was pretty normal in US English at the time. I always thought r dropping was a UK specialty and never happened in the American colonies, so I'll have to look for info about when that development stopped and reversed in the US since provides no info on this.

It would seem that it's pretty important that the word "arse" was mostly heard and rarely seen. This could perhaps explain why the apparent reversal of r dropping that happened in the US didn't affect a word that sounded like it didn't have an r (anymore).

The euphemism related to ass/arse is elsewhere, in the use of "donkey" instead of "ass", but this seems to have been a mostly or entirely British development predating the existence or the linguistic independence of the American colonies. Since "ass" had already been replaced by "donkey" for a long time in English, US Americans could use "ass" to unequivocally refer to the pejorative senses of "donkey" and "buttocks".

The following was my attempt to copyedit the deleted WP article on this word, but i'm not sure the content is in fact correct:

Although before World War I they were similar, the British English pronunciations of "ass" /æs/ and "arse" /ɑːs/ are now quite different. In American English, they were also pronounced quite similarly in the past when non-rhotic pronunciation ("r dropping") was more common. Since "ass" was replaced by "donkey" (in both UK and US English), it became possible for US Americans to use "ass" only for the pejorative meanings of both words. Although "arse" is commonly used in Atlantic Canada, "ass" is more idiomatic west of the Ottawa river. --Espoo 03:02, 29 December 2010 (UTC)

Please correct the spanish translation from 'polvo' to 'culo'.

In this case, polvo is correct. —Stephen (Talk) 07:05, 21 November 2011 (UTC)

Semitic origin[edit]

“The word probably has a Semitic origin, c.f. the Sumerian ansu and Hebrew,  (ahton, “she-ass”).” (English>Etymology 1>paragraph 2.) Since when is Sumerian Semitic? In the correspondig Wikipedia article[1] and in its reference[2] it says “language isolate”. I'm changing it from Sumerian to Arabic (أَتَان[3] (sorry, it's the only source I could find which shows any cognates for it)) unless you can give me an established source that says the Semitic root comes from Sumerian (probably through Akkadian). TomeHale (talk) 19:33, 6 August 2012 (UTC)


Old Armenian էշ (ēš, “donkey”) is also an ancestor according to the equus entry and the էշ one (and the internet in general). 09:23, 20 August 2013 (UTC)

None of the entries say that, in fact. Nor did they say it at the time you wrote. The entry asinus traces the word back to Asia Minor (or the Levant, or the Ancient Near East in general), but does not mention Armenian.
The Latin word was apparently borrowed after rhotacism, i. e., in the 4th or 3rd century BC, by which time Armenian was indeed already spoken in the region (Asia Minor), but it was not Old Armenian at the time, but an earlier stage roughly equivalent to what is sometimes termed "Proto-Armenian", which may or may not make a relevant (phonetic) difference in this case. It would be geographically and historically highly unexpected for Old Latin to borrow a word from Armenian (which was, at the time, probably spoken in central or eastern Anatolia, but only in the inland and probably not at the Mediterranean), and I know no other case. It appears more plausible that the source was Etruscan, which conveyed elements from Asia Minor (but hardly Armenian), although a fitting Etruscan word is not attested. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 13:30, 22 February 2014 (UTC)

Arabic term relating to buttocks[edit]

"طيز" is a common term meaning ass (as in buttocks) and should be added. —This unsigned comment was added by Chaimshalom (talkcontribs).

Yes check.svg Done --Anatoli (обсудить/вклад) 23:18, 6 May 2014 (UTC)

If X finds out, it's my ass[edit]

How should a sentence like "If Mr White finds out, it's my ass" (I'll be in trouble/lose my job) be explained by Wiktionary. Siuenti (talk) 22:58, 2 February 2015 (UTC)