Share this entry

Share this page

arse

Syllabification: arse
Pronunciation: /ärs
 
/

Definition of arse in English:

noun

British spelling of ass2.

Origin

Old English ærs, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch aars and German Arsch.

More
  • Like bum, arse was not originally a rude slang word. It dates back to before 1000 in English, and is connected to various old German and Scandinavian forms that were probably linked to Greek orros ‘the rump or bottom’. Arse was perfectly respectable until the 17th century. To go arse over tip (the original form, rather than tit) and not know your arse from your elbow are first found in the early 20th century. My arse! as a derisive comment is first recorded in the 1920s, though all these expressions are probably older. The American spelling is ass, which is nothing to do with ass meaning ‘donkey’. The latter is from an Old English word that is related to easel and goes back to Latin asinus, as in asinine (Late Middle English) or stupid. See also wheat

Definition of arse in:

Share this entry

Share this page

 

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources

Word of the day cumbersome
Pronunciation: ˈkʌmbəs(ə)m
adjective
large or heavy and therefore difficult to carry…