There are 2 main definitions of ass in English:

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ass 1

Pronunciation: /as/


1A hoofed mammal of the horse family with a braying call, typically smaller than a horse and with longer ears.
  • Genus Equus, family Equidae: E. africanus of Africa, which is the ancestor of the domestic ass or donkey, and E. hemionus of Asia.
Example sentences
  • This family, made up of the horses, asses and zebras, contains one genus with nine species.
  • Similarly, one ‘kind’ was likely ancestral to the various types of horses, zebras and asses.
  • Today only seven species of wild equids remain - three asses, three zebra and one wild horse - and IUCN-The World Conservation Union now lists most of these as endangered.
1.1(In general use) a donkey.
Example sentences
  • Need I remind you gentlemen, that an ass is a donkey.
  • Then be called ten times a donkey, and a mule, and an ass, and begone, or I'll clear the world of thee!
  • But did Avraham sell Sara to an imperial Pharaoh in exchange for sheep, cattle, donkeys, servants, maids, asses, and camels?!
2 informal A foolish or stupid person: that ass of a young man
More example sentences
  • The silly ass asked the electors: ‘Who governs Britain?’
  • They are seen for the foolish bunch of asses that they are.
  • The fact might well be forgotten, but there are stupid asses who will not let us forget it.
informal dimwit, halfwit, dummy, dum-dum, loon, jackass, cretin, jerk, fathead, blockhead, jughead, boob, bozo, buffoon, numbskull, numbnuts, lummox, knuckle-dragger, dunce, moron, meatball, doofus, ninny, nincompoop, dipstick, lamebrain, chump, peabrain, mouth-breather, hoser, thickhead, dumb-ass, wooden-head, pinhead, airhead, butthead, birdbrain, scissorbill, nitwit, twit, turkey, goofball, putz
vulgar slang asshat


make an ass of oneself

informal Behave in a way that makes one look foolish or stupid: he is stewed and about to make an ass of himself
More example sentences
  • Somewhere behind it all, however, lies the splendid and irrepressible urge to get up in public and risk making an ass of yourself for the sake of art.
  • We are not all mad violent alcoholics or binge drinkers whose only form of entertainment consists of trying to enter pubs in the hope of getting very drunk and making an ass of ourselves!
  • I'm pretty sure Jessica holds her liquor better than I hold mine, because I distinctly remember making an ass of myself twice in her presence, and her not even one time at all.


Old English assa, from a Celtic word related to Welsh asyn, Breton azen, based on Latin asinus.

  • arse from Old English:

    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

Words that rhyme with ass

alas, Alsace, amass, Bass, chasse, crass, crevasse, en masse, gas, Hamas, lass, mass, morass, sass, tarantass, tass, wrasse

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: ass

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There are 2 main definitions of ass in English:

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ass 2

Pronunciation: /as/
(British arse)


North American vulgar slang
1A person’s buttocks or anus.
1.1A stupid, irritating, or contemptible person.
1.2Women regarded as a source of sexual gratification.
1.3Oneself (used in phrases for emphasis): get your ass in here fast the bureaucrat who wants everything in writing so as to cover his ass



bust one's ass

North American vulgar slang Try very hard to do something.

bust (or whip) someone's ass

North American vulgar slang Beat someone in a fight or contest.

chew (someone's) ass

North American vulgar slang Reprimand severely.

get your ass in (or into) gear

[in imperative] North American vulgar slang Hurry: if you get your ass in gear, you can make it out of here tonight

get off one's ass

North American vulgar slang Stop being lazy.

haul (or drag or tear) ass

North American vulgar slang Hurry or move fast: I just turn around and haul ass right out of there

kick (some) ass (or kick someone's ass)

North American vulgar slang see kick1.

kiss ass

North American vulgar slang
see kiss.

my ass

North American vulgar slang Used to convey that one does not believe something that has just been said: sold out, my ass!

not give (or care) a rat's ass

North American vulgar slang Not care at all about something.

not know one's ass from a hole in the ground (or from one's elbow)

North American vulgar slang Be totally ignorant or incompetent.

a pain in the ass

North American vulgar slang
see pain.

a piece of ass

North American vulgar slang
see piece.

put (or have) someone's ass in a sling

North American vulgar slang Get someone in trouble: you managed to put his ass in a sling along with your own

up your ass

North American vulgar slang Used to express contempt for someone or something.

you bet your ass

North American vulgar slang You can be very sure: [with clause]: you can bet your ass I’ll go for it every time



Pronunciation: /ast/

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: ass

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