[Ads-l] "unass" = 'leave', 'cause to leave' (military)

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Thu Sep 28 14:19:58 UTC 2017

Lots of Vietnam War cites, often in ref. to "unassing" a helicopter.

As usual, Wilson was on the case before the journalists, memoirists, and


On Thu, Sep 28, 2017 at 12:51 AM, Wilson Gray <hwgray at gmail.com> wrote:

> _Unass_ has expanded since my day. When I first heard it as a recruit -
> then the lowest grade (in those days - the summer of ’59 - only officers
> had rank), even lower than (buck) private - it meant only “stand up to
> attention,” shouted by drill sergeants at people who were sitting or
> otherwise lounging, despite not having been given the commands, “REST!
> Smoke ‘em, if you got ‘em!”: “UNASS that gravel! … those seats! …that wall,
> you *dud(s)*!” Or, in the barracks, one guy might say to another, “Unass
> that rack!” = “Get your ass off my bunk!” Or, perhaps, “Unass that king!”,
> in a game of bridge, i.e. “You are now forced to play your king, even
> though you know that I’m going to trump it,” or some such.
> But, I’d already heard it as a civilian, in 1958. In those days, anybody
> who could be drafted was drafted, “seem like,” unless he dodged the draft
> by enlisting. So, nearly everybody that I knew was going to the military,
> was in the military, or was ex-military. “Unass” and “cop a squat” were
> brought back to the ‘hood from Fort Leonard Wood in ’58, by Harry, of
> “What’s happening, blacker-than-me?” fame.
> On Wed, Sep 27, 2017 at 9:54 PM Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at yale.edu>
> wrote:
> > New to (nonmilitary) me, but apparently well established for at least 50
> > years.  Jon, do you have anything in the HDAS files for this that
> indicates
> > how far back it goes? Wilson et al., can you push it back beyond Vietnam?
> >
> > Here’s Grant’s entry from 2004 (https://www.waywordradio.org/unass/):
> >
> > unass v. to dismount or disembark (a vehicle); to get off of (something);
> > to unseat (someone); to leave (somewhere). Editorial Note: This term
> dates
> > back to at least the 1960s and the Vietnam War. It is especially
> associated
> > with the military, from where it has spread to politics and aeronautics.
> >
> > LH
> > ------------------------------------------------------------
> > The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
> >
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

"If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the truth."

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

More information about the Ads-l mailing list