Asshole buddies:speculative etymology

Douglas G. Wilson douglas at NB.NET
Sat Feb 7 23:32:46 UTC 2004

HDAS shows "asshole buddy" in two senses:

"1. ... best friend, close friend (with no imputation of homosexuality)."

from ca. 1942-5


"2. a partner in ... anal intercourse."

from 1953.

Etymologically the HDAS speculation is:

"1. [this sense prob. developed fr. (2), below, but early evidence is lacking]"

I doubt this derivation of sense 1 from sense 2. I speculate (without any
decisive evidence) that "asshole buddy" began -- during WW II or earlier --
as a casual humorous military alteration of "foxhole buddy" meaning the man
who shares one's foxhole. This would give sense 1 first. No doubt
double-entendre was obvious from the start or very soon, and I think sense
2 likely was attached to the already existing phrase. Was sense 2 ever
common, outside of jokes based on sense 1?

"Foxhole buddy" is still used to mean "Army/Marine buddy from the war", I

Tending to support the derivation from "foxhole buddy" is the rarity of
alternatives such as "asshole friend" or "asshole pal" or "asshole
comrade". It's virtually always "buddy" ... because, I think, it originated
with the establishment and maintenance of foxholes by the "buddy system"
(not the *"friend system" or whatever).

Around 1960-70, I often heard "asshole buddy" = "very close friend", and it
had (as HDAS says) no homosexual implication, even when it could naturally
have had (e.g., "He got his promotion because he's the boss's asshole
buddy", which had in my experience a very different meaning from something
like "... because he's the boss's lover/etc.").

In my experience (not necessarily representative) "asshole buddy" (sense 1)
is usually or almost always spoken with second-word stress, in keeping with
"asshole" acting as an adjective = "good": thus "my close BUDDY", "my bosom
BUDDY", "my asshole BUDDY" (also "my fat BUDDY", "my old BUDDY", etc.).

I don't remember ever encountering sense 2 in speech: does it have the same
stress? Modifiers which denote the context of a friendship will, I think,
usually have (first-word) stress: "my FISHING buddy", "my POKER buddy", "my
ARMY buddy". And probably "my FOXHOLE buddy" (can anyone confirm or refute
this one?). Is there "ASSHOLE buddy" on a similar basis in conventional
speech? In sense 1, or 2, or maybe in both? Maybe some of the list scholars
can repair my ignorance?

-- Doug Wilson

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