- 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.
Origin of ass1
- the buttocks.
- the rectum.
- Slang. sexual intercourse.
Origin of ass2
- 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 adjective: asinine
- (not in technical use) the domesticated variety of the African wild ass; donkey
- a foolish or ridiculously pompous person
- not within an ass's roar of Irish informal not close to obtaining, winning, etcshe wasn't within an ass's roar of it
- mainly US and Canadian slang the buttocks
- mainly US and Canadian slang the anus
- mainly US and Canadian offensive, slang sexual intercourse or a woman considered sexually (esp in the phrase piece of ass)
- cover one's ass slang, mainly US and Canadian to take such action as one considers necessary to avoid censure, ridicule, etc at a later time
Word Origin and History for ass's
beast of burden, Old English assa (Old Northumbrian assal, assald) "he-ass," probably from Old Celtic *as(s)in "donkey," which (with German esel, Gothic asilus, Lithuanian asilas, Old Church Slavonic osl) ultimately is from Latin asinus, which is probably of Middle Eastern origin (cf. Sumerian ansu).
For al schal deie and al schal passe, Als wel a Leoun as an asse. [John Gower, "Confessio Amantis," 1393]
Since ancient Greek times, in fables and parables, the animal typified clumsiness and stupidity (hence asshead, late 15c., etc.). To make an ass of oneself is from 1580s. Asses' Bridge (c.1780), from Latin Pons Asinorum, is fifth proposition of first book of Euclid's "Elements." In Middle English, someone uncomprehending or unappreciative would be lik an asse that listeth on a harpe. In 15c., an ass man was a donkey driver.
slang for "backside," first attested 1860 in nautical slang, in popular use from 1930; chiefly U.S.; from dialectal 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. Colloquial (one's) ass "one's self, one's person" attested by 1958.