Asshole buddies:speculative etymology

Dennis R. Preston preston at MSU.EDU
Sun Feb 8 13:41:51 UTC 2004

>Doesn't this speculation all overlook the etymology of 'buddy'?


>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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