Asshole buddies:speculative etymology

Douglas G. Wilson douglas at NB.NET
Tue Feb 10 01:41:00 UTC 2004

>... over on the OUTIL mailing list, brent de chene has discussed stress,
>claiming that sense 1 has modifier stress (afterstress, heavier stress
>on the second element: asshole BUDDY)

I think he was quoting me (he was kind enough to send me a copy), and this
is how I've heard it most of the time ... but there are of course occasions
when first-word stress would appear regardless: e.g., "They're not just
buddies, they're close/bosom/asshole buddies."

>i'm pretty
>sure i've never heard sense 1 with anything except forestress, and i
>judge "asshole BUDDY" to be a novel modifier-modified combination with
>the meaning (sense #3) 'buddy who's an asshole, a jerk'.  but i'm not
>going to deny that some speakers might have afterstress for sense #1;

Surely some do, or did (I don't remember hearing this expression much [if
at all] in the last ten years or so). And it's true as I recall that
"asshole buddy" meaning "good buddy" sounds the same as "asshole buddy"
meaning "buddy who's an asshole". In some cases I haven't been able to tell
which was intended. Quite often it's plural and more clear: "Me and him,
we're asshole buddies."

First-word stress would be predicted by my speculative derivation, and I
speculate that this is the original stress. Arnold Zwicky's experience
tends to remove one relative implausibility. What is the experience of
others? And from when/where?

I have seen sense 2 (referring to anal intercourse) in print now and then.
I feel that it would be unlikely (not impossible) as a lexical item in the
absence of sense 1 which I believe is probably primary.

-- Doug Wilson

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