Last modified on 29 November 2014, at 00:17

asshole

English

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Etymology

Variation of earlier arsehole, from Middle English arshole, arcehoole, equivalent to ass +‎ hole. Cognate with Norwegian rasshøl (asshole), Swedish arsle (asshole). Compare also German Arschloch (asshole). Attested from the 1370s, replacing earlier Old English earsþerl (anus, literally arse thirl). First recorded in Middle English, as ers hole (Glouc. Cath. Manuscript 19. No. I., dated 1379, cited after OED), ars-hole (Bodleian Ashmole MS. 1396, dated ca. 1400, ed. Robert Von Fleischhacker as Lanfrank's "Science of Cirurgie", EETS 102, 1894, cited after OED.)

Slang figurative usage dates to the 20th century; it was used of an uninviting place (compare shithole) in the 1920s, and then of an anti-social or despicable person from at least the 1950s (Harvard Advocate 137, March 1954). It also also used appositionally (as in "You're an asshole moralist", T. Chamales, 1957).

Pronunciation

  • (file)

Alternative forms

Noun

asshole (plural assholes) (US)

  1. (vulgar) The anus.
  2. (vulgar, pejorative) A jerk; an inappropriately or objectionably mean, inconsiderate, contemptible, obnoxious, intrusive, or rude person.
    • 1965, Jan Cremer, I, Jan Cremer, OCLC 11363300, page 78:
      He philosophised all day about Morandi, Klee, Mird and Picasso, and was such an asshole that he spelled "cunt" with a "d".
  3. (vulgar) An unpleasant or uninviting place.
    • 1976, Felix Goodson, Sweet Salt, ISBN 9780804811736, page 254:
      You oughta have better sense than to trust anyone with anything in this asshole place.
  4. (vulgar) By extension, anything unpleasant or undesirable. Often used appositionally.
    • 1979, Ronald Sukenick, Long Talking Bad Conditions Blues, ISBN 9780914590606, page 83:
      ... but when he started bugging the bartender to shut the asshole TV off because he wanted to have a serious discussion...
  5. (obsolete, Scotland and northern England) A receptacle under a fire grate for collecting ashes.
    • 1775, Tim Bobbin [John Collier], The Miscellaneous Works of Tim Bobbin, Esq., OCLC 642300491, page 68:
      Esshole, Asshole, the hole under the fire to hold ashes.

Usage notes

  • Asshole is an American English form, the corresponding British English form is arsehole.
  • As a pejorative for persons, this term is less vulgar and intense than fucker. While not intrinsically gender-specific, it is primarily applied to men; gender-specific pejoratives such as bitch are often used for women.

Synonyms

Derived terms

Related terms

Translations

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References


Scots

Etymology

From ass, asse "ashes" and hole.

Noun

asshole (plural assholes)

  1. (obsolete) The place for receiving the ashes under the grate in a fireplace

References

  • John Jamieson, An etymological dictionary of the Scottish language: in which the words are explained in their different senses, authorized by the names of the writers by whom they are used, or the titles of the works in which they occur, and deduced from their originals, 1818