[Ads-l] "kick ass" 1862?

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Tue Oct 10 15:14:13 EDT 2017


Lighter’s Historical Dictionary of American Slang mentions euphemisms:
 "kick ass [or (euphem.) butt or tail]". HDAS also mentions "kick in
the ass [or (euphem,) pants].

Maybe exploring "kicking pants" and "pants kicking" might be helpful.
These citations do not really match "kick ass" enforcement sense, but
these citations and earlier ones might reduce the isolation of the
1862 citation.

Date: January 19, 1897
Newspaper: Hopkinsville Kentuckian
Newspaper Location: Hopkinsville, Kentucky
Article: Untitled short item
Quote Page 4, Column 1
Database: Newspapers.com

[Begin excerpt]
By the way, Bro. Walker, suppose we meet at some half-way point and
have a mutual pants-kicking.
[End excerpt]

Date: December 31, 1928
Newspaper: The Marion Star
Newspaper Location: Marion, Ohio
Article: Jubilee's Pardner: A Story of Humor oat Boyhood
Author: Judd Mortimer Lewis
Quote Page 9, Column 5
Database: Newspapers.com

[Begin excerpt]
I got a horn and a tin bucket to hammer on and all of our bunch was up
town hammering and blowing and yelling when all at once I got a kick
in the pants and there was my father. I was made to go home. He had
better kick my pants all he can while he can, for sometime I will be
kicking pants.
[End excerpt]

Garson


On Tue, Oct 10, 2017 at 1:13 PM, Ben Zimmer <bgzimmer at gmail.com> wrote:
> Here are direct links...
>
> JL's original ADS-L post:
> http://listserv.linguistlist.org/pipermail/ads-l/2017-October/149620.html
>
> My post on the Strong Language blog:
> https://stronglang.wordpress.com/2017/10/06/i-want-to-kick-ass-in-1862/
>
> ...now cross-posted on Slate:
> http://www.slate.com/blogs/browbeat/2017/10/10/the_phrase_kick_ass_was_discovered_in_civil_war_correspondence.html
>
>
> On Tue, Oct 10, 2017 at 12:59 PM, Stephen Goranson <goranson at duke.edu>
> wrote:
>
>> I do not claim to understand the collocation in the 1862 Civil War letter,
>>
>> but maybe speculation besides accepting the sense known *over* a century
>> later
>>
>> (with no intervening words between kick and ass) may be appropriate.
>>
>> I lost some email so here's the archive with links (also see Ben at Slate)
>>
>> http://listserv.linguistlist.org/pipermail/ads-l/2017-October/date.html
>>
>>
>> Ben asked, more or less, whether the letter writer meant either to kick
>> ass generally (gung-ho versus enemies)
>>
>> or to kick Old Captian Gilbert's ass. Of the two, in context, the latter
>> seems to me
>>
>> relatively more likely.
>>
>> This soldier evidently does not want to enlist longer, at least not now.
>>
>> He may wish to resist the pressure to do so.
>>
>> By the way, there is ambiguity about what he wrote by his hand and what
>> was dictated (if, in fact, both).
>>
>> Which was the interlinear?
>>
>> (And the first k is messy, but what else could fit?)
>>
>> "Ass" in some of these letters meant "as"--not that that instantly helps.
>>
>> Might--wild guess--this be an abbreviated "kick like an ass,"
>>
>> in resistance?
>>
>>
>> Though it's not a really parallel case, another letter (by another author,
>> Everett4 soldier from GA) includes:
>>
>> "iwant to See Some
>> of the gals down thea in Hayneville you
>> must tell them all howdy for me if
>> you Can tell them that i love them
>> as hard af [sic, as?] mule Can kick down hill
>> i cant see any Gals up her at all"
>>
>>
>> To "kick like a mule" (more or less, to really insist?) may have been
>> common then.
>>
>>
>> uncentainly,
>>
>> Stephen
>>
>>
>>
>
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

------------------------------------------------------------
The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org


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