1 [as]
a long-eared, slow, patient, sure-footed domesticated mammal, Equus asinus, related to the horse, used chiefly as a beast of burden.
any wild species of the genus Equus, as the onager.
a stupid, foolish, or stubborn person.

before 1000; Middle English asse, Old English assa, probably hypocoristic form based on Old Irish asan < Latin asinus; akin to Greek ónos ass

asslike, adjective Unabridged


2 [as]
noun Vulgar.
the buttocks.
the rectum.
Slang. sexual intercourse.

before 1000; var of arse, with loss of r before s, as in passel, cuss, etc.; Middle English ars, er(e)s, Old English ærs, ears; cognate with Old Frisian ers, Dutch aars, Old Norse, Middle Low German, Old Saxon, Old High German ars (German Arsch), Greek órrhos, Armenian or̄kh, Hittite arras; akin to Greek ourā́, Old Irish err tail


a combining form of ass in the sense of ‘stupid person’ or ‘the buttocks’, used in slang words as an intensifier or with disparaging intent: big-ass; stupid-ass. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
arse or (US), (Canadian) ass (ɑːs, ˈɑːsˌhəʊl)
1.  the buttocks
2.  the anus
3.  a stupid person; fool
4.  sexual intercourse
5.  (Austral) effrontery; cheek
6.  get one's arse into gear to start to do something seriously and quickly
usage  Dating back at least a thousand years, and taboo till around the middle of the 20th century, this venerable ``Anglo-Saxon'' word now seems unlikely to cause offence in all but the most formal contexts. Its acceptability has possibly been helped by such useful verb formations as ``to arse about'' and ``I can't be arsed''
ass or (US), (Canadian) ass
usage  Dating back at least a thousand years, and taboo till around the middle of the 20th century, this venerable ``Anglo-Saxon'' word now seems unlikely to cause offence in all but the most formal contexts. Its acceptability has possibly been helped by such useful verb formations as ``to arse about'' and ``I can't be arsed''

ass1 (æs)
1.  either of two perissodactyl mammals of the horse family (Equidae), Equus asinus (African wild ass) or E. hemionus (Asiatic wild ass). They are hardy and sure-footed, having longer ears than the horseRelated: asinine
2.  (not in technical use) the domesticated variety of the African wild ass; donkey
3.  a foolish or ridiculously pompous person
4.  informal (Irish) not within an ass's roar of not close to obtaining, winning, etc: she wasn't within an ass's roar of it
Related: asinine
[Old English assa, probably from Old Irish asan, from Latin asinus; related to Greek onos ass]

ass2 (æs)
1.  slang chiefly (US), (Canadian) the buttocks
2.  slang chiefly (US), (Canadian) the anus
3.  offensive, slang chiefly (US), (Canadian) sexual intercourse or a woman considered sexually (esp in the phrase piece of ass)
4.  slang chiefly (US), (Canadian) cover one's ass to take such action as one considers necessary to avoid censure, ridicule, etc at a later time
[Old English ærs; see arse]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

beast of burden, O.E. assa (Old Northumbrian assal, assald), prob. from O.Celt. *as(s)in "donkey," which (with Ger. esel, Goth. asilus, Lith. asilas, O.C.S. osl) is ultimately from L. asinus, probably of Middle Eastern origin (cf. Sumerian ansu). Since ancient Gk. times, in fables and parables, the animal
typifies clumsiness and stupidity (hence asshead, 1540s, etc.). To make an ass of oneself is from 1580s. Asses' Bridge (c.1780), from L. Pons Asinorum, is fifth proposition of first book of Euclid's "Elements."

slang for "backside," first attested 1860 in nautical slang, in popular use from 1930; chiefly U.S.; from dial. variant pronunciation of arse (q.v.). The loss of -r- before -s- attested in several other words (e.g. burst/bust, curse/cuss, horse/hoss, barse/bass). Indirect evidence
of the change from arse to ass can be traced to 1785 (in euphemistic avoidance of ass "donkey" by polite speakers) and perhaps to Shakespeare, if Nick Bottom transformed into a donkey in "A Midsummer Night's Dream" (1594) is the word-play some think it is. Meaning "woman regarded as a sexual object" is from 1942.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Abbreviations & Acronyms
  1. assistant

  2. association

The American Heritage® Abbreviations Dictionary, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Bible Dictionary

Ass definition

frequently mentioned throughout Scripture. Of the domesticated species we read of, (1.) The she ass (Heb. 'athon), so named from its slowness (Gen. 12:16; 45:23; Num. 22:23; 1 Sam. 9:3). (2.) The male ass (Heb. hamor), the common working ass of Western Asia, so called from its red colour. Issachar is compared to a strong ass (Gen. 49:14). It was forbidden to yoke together an ass and an ox in the plough (Deut. 22:10). (3.) The ass's colt (Heb. 'air), mentioned Judg. 10:4; 12:14. It is rendered "foal" in Gen. 32:15; 49:11. (Comp. Job 11:12; Isa. 30:6.) The ass is an unclean animal, because it does not chew the cud (Lev. 11:26. Comp. 2 Kings 6:25). Asses constituted a considerable portion of wealth in ancient times (Gen. 12:16; 30:43; 1 Chr. 27:30; Job 1:3; 42:12). They were noted for their spirit and their attachment to their master (Isa. 1:3). They are frequently spoken of as having been ridden upon, as by Abraham (Gen. 22:3), Balaam (Num. 22:21), the disobedient prophet (1 Kings 13:23), the family of Abdon the judge, seventy in number (Judg. 12:14), Zipporah (Ex. 4:20), the Shunammite (1 Sam. 25:30), etc. Zechariah (9:9) predicted our Lord's triumphal entrance into Jerusalem, "riding upon an ass, and upon a colt," etc. (Matt. 21:5, R.V.). Of wild asses two species are noticed, (1) that called in Hebrew _'arod_, mentioned Job 39:5 and Dan. 5:21, noted for its swiftness; and (2) that called _pe're_, the wild ass of Asia (Job 39:6-8; 6:5; 11:12; Isa. 32:14; Jer. 2:24; 14:6, etc.). The wild ass was distinguished for its fleetness and its extreme shyness. In allusion to his mode of life, Ishmael is likened to a wild ass (Gen. 16:12. Here the word is simply rendered "wild" in the Authorized Version, but in the Revised Version, "wild-ass among men").

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases


In addition to the idiom beginning with ass, also see break one's ass; chew out (one's ass off); cover one's ass; drag one's ass; kick ass; kick in the pants (ass); kiss ass; make a fool (an ass) of; pain in the ass; stick it (up one's ass); you bet your ass.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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