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See also: bad-ass and bad ass



bad +‎ ass (buttocks; one's self or person)[1]



badass (plural badasses)

  1. (US, sometimes considered vulgar, slang, negative connotation) A belligerent or mean person; a person with an unpleasantly extreme appearance, attitudes, or behavior.
    Don’t mess with that guy, he’s a real badass.
  2. (US, sometimes considered vulgar, slang, positive connotation) A person considered impressive due to courage, skill, daring, audacity, and/or toughness.
    • 1975, Norman Dickens, “Badass”, in Jack Nicholson: The Search for a Superstar, New York, N.Y.: New American Library, →OCLC, page 124:
      "I'm a badass." (Jack Nicholson to a New York friend, early 1973.)
    • 1998, Jason Flores-Williams, chapter 6, in The Last Stand of Mr America, San Francisco, Calif.: Caught Inside Press, →OCLC; republished Seattle, Wash.: Nobody Rocks Press, 2009, →ISBN, page 124:
      The Oakland Raiders are one of the few teams that I have any feelings for besides the Steelers. Nowadays they're a bunch of wannabe badasses, but back in the day they were something to behold.
    • 2004 May, Vince Flynn, chapter 6, in Memorial Day, New York, N.Y.: Atria Books, →ISBN, page 39:
      Men and women from the CIA's Directorate of Operations (DO) would return from Afghanistan and tell stories about Task Force 11, an amalgamation of Special Forces bad-asses from the various branches of the U.S. military.
    • 2011 July 21, Ishaan Tharoor, “Top 10 Bad-Ass Wives”, in Time[2]:
      The Rani of Jhansi
      [] The Rani, also known as Lakshmibai, eventually joined in, and won a few stunning battles. She perished, according to lore, while fighting the British on horseback in full armored splendor. She was only 22.
      [Here, Time is listing Lakshmibai, the Rani of Jhansi - one of the leaders of the Indian Rebellion of 1857 and a major National Heroine of contemporary India - as one of the top ten "Bad-Ass Wives" of all time.]
    • 2013 June, Scott McEwen, Thomas Koloniar, chapter 2, in Sniper Elite: One-way Trip: A Novel (Touchstone Book), New York, N.Y.: Simon & Schuster, →ISBN, page 11:
      Known throughout the Spec-Ops community as the best of the best, they were the go-to badasses in the air for the go-to badasses on the ground, and Sandra was the first female pilot to be made a member.
    • 2014 September 24, Boo Marx, chapter 10, in The American Terrorists: The True Story of a Real Telepath who Defeated over Three Hundred Soldiers with His Mind, Bloomington, Ind.: AuthorHouse, →ISBN, page 100:
      I walked out of the mall like I was a real bad ass. Once I was in my truck, I slammed the door starting the engine peeling away from my parkin spot.
    • 2017 December 1, Tom Breihan, “Mad Max: Fury Road Might Already be the Best Action Movie Ever Made”, in The A.V. Club[3], archived from the original on 22 February 2018:
      [Charlize] Theron is an absolute badass in the role: hard, intense, quietly vulnerable, in charge at almost every moment. She fights Mad Max to a standstill even though she’s only got one arm. She takes his rifle and shoots out the light of the Bullet Farmer’s car when Max can’t do it.

Alternative forms



badass (comparative more badass, superlative most badass)

  1. (US, sometimes considered vulgar, slang, negative connotation) Belligerent and troublesome.
    • 2005, Cupcake Brown, chapter 2, in A Piece of Cake: A Memoir, New York, N.Y.: Crown, →ISBN, page 21:
      Uncle Jr. was really quiet. Probably because he was a junior high school teacher and was around badass, hollerin' kids all day.
    • 2009 April, Gary C. King, chapter 2, in Butcher, New York, N.Y.: Pinnacle Books, Kensington Publishing Corp., →ISBN, page 26:
      [There were] lots of really, really bad, badass people … I did not want to be a part of it.
    • 2015, Colin Quinn, The Coloring Book: A Comedian Solves Race Relations in America[4], New York, N.Y.: Grand Central Publishing, →ISBN:
      I worked at one bar on the Upper East Side that was owned by a famous Irish badass thug everyone was scared of.
  2. (US, sometimes considered vulgar, slang, positive connotation) Having an extreme appearance, attitude, or behavior that is considered admirable.
    Synonyms: awesome, cool, sick, wicked
    That tough guy looks badass.
    • 2004 February 18, Dan Shive, El Goonish Shive (webcomic), Comic for Wednesday, Feb 18, 2004:
      "FAIRY WING GLITTER!!!" / *sparkle* / "It's hard to look bad-ass when using fairy powers..." *sigh*
    • 2011, Laura Dave, chapter 14, in The First Husband: A Novel, New York, N.Y.: Viking, →ISBN; republished New York, N.Y.: Penguin Books, 2012, →ISBN, page 95:
      "Nice coat, lady!" he said. / I sat down across from him. "Not a good moment to start with me about it," I said. / "Who's starting with you? It's badass." It took me only half a second to see that he was serious. "Completely badass."
    • 2012, Mark Jones, Fear and Loathing in Pattaya, [Phoenix, Ariz.]: Booksmango, →ISBN, page 161:
      I took another deep breath and plunged under the white caps again safe in the knowledge that these bad ass Thai boys weren't going to follow me anytime soon, out into the storm affected seas; []
    • 2012, James R. Tuck, chapter 4, in Spider’s Lullaby, New York, N.Y.: Kensington Publishing Corp., →ISBN:
      She's dressed in badass black and the barest amount of chrome that is acceptable. I love her, but she [a car] is not easy to drive.
    • 2013, Katya Armock, chapter 15, in To Growl or to Groan (Hidden Lines; 2), [s.l.]: Etopia Press, →ISBN:
      Yeah. So stop with the pity party. You really are pretty badass right about now.

Usage notes

This term is sometimes considered vulgar, and some may take offence at its usage in conversation, especially when in polite company or in public.

Derived terms



  1. ^ Douglas Harper (2001–2023), “bad-ass”, in Online Etymology Dictionary, retrieved 4 May 2018.

Further reading