Throwing It Out There In A Kick-ass Kind Of Way

  FOR A PROJECT I was working on I looked up the meaning of kick-ass*.  I found the following words used to describe kick-ass:

impressive • powerful • cool • effective • hip • vigorous • interesting • extremely good • forceful

In the process of this research I also discovered that kick-ass is sometimes considered vulgar slang.

[News to me.]

  I WAS SURPRISED BECAUSE: 1) I use the word in casual conversation– and as we all know I’m anything but vulgar;  and 2) I occasionally describe myself as kick-ass… because you know I am… in certain situations.

However, from the foregoing word research I’ve concluded that despite my good intentions and a desire to communicate clearly, in today’s world it doesn’t matter how I say something because someone will find a way to misconstrue what I have said.

Even when what I’m saying is truthful.

[Maybe especially when what I’m saying is truthful?]

  AND ON THAT OBVIOUS, yet annoying, note of writerly despair, I’ll end this post, my gentle readers, with what has become my latest favorite saying.

In fact, if you’ll forgive my vulgarity here, I’ll even suggest that this saying is a kick-ass way to add a bit of levity to your day– not that I’m suggesting that you should do this in your real life when your choice of word seems to get people all snitified.

But you could.

[But don’t.]

• • •

• • •

* Alternative spelling of kick-ass is kickass.  There does not seem to be agreement on how to spell it. 🙄 I went with Merriam-Webster’s spelling because I majored in English in undergrad and I have a fond spot in my heart for this dictionary.

Published by

Ally Bean

Observant. Humorous. Adaptable. Happy enough. Midwestern by chance. Kindhearted by choice. Usually.

94 thoughts on “Throwing It Out There In A Kick-ass Kind Of Way”

  1. Really surprised that Kick-ass is considered vulgar slang! You are definitely far from vulgar….unless you’ve changed completely over the years!

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    1. Beth, I was surprised, too. I’ve never ever heard it used in any way other than to suggest something or someone is good, impressive, of great quality. The things you learn…

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  2. I like the hyphen spelling. In my opinion, hyphens are underused and people take them out of dictionary spellings because non-English majors (or journalism majors like myself) don’t ever use them. BUT THEY’RE WRONG.

    I like that kick-ass is in the dictionary. 🙂

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  3. I tell my daughter to kick ass every time she has something big. My favorite stupid movie is “the cuttind edge”. Towards the end of the movie , one of the characters says to the other, “lets go kick some ass.” Sorry…buts it’s the absolute perfect way to get started and get pumped. Kick ass post today….

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    1. LA, I like your attitude. I had no idea that this word was considered vulgar by some people. I use it in a positive way, so I had to write this kick-ass post to talk about it. Obviously.

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        1. I don’t know. I was surprised when I read how it is sometimes perceived as vulgar. I don’t get it– and I might just throw an apple at anyone who criticizes me for using it. So there.

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    1. John, sure, you can spell whoop-ass with a hyphen. Why not? In fact you can use that potentially vulgar [to some people I’m sure] word all you want. I promise to not throw an apple at you.

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    1. Betsy, I am shocked by that kind of language! Or maybe I’m not. 🤔

      I hadn’t thought of bastard as a word with the power to offend, but it’s a good one. Imagine what could happen if you said/wrote “kick-ass bastard.” The earth might stop spinning on its axis for some people!

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  4. I love this post! So not offended, it’s not vulgar (IMHO). I’m feeling very kick-ass at the moment as my son and I spent Easter in Michigan listening to country music and I’m now feeling very sassy. Which is a good thing. I need kick-ass sassiness in my life right now 🙂

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    1. Polly, thank you. I’m glad that you, like me, think kick-ass is a perfectly acceptable word used by good people everywhere. I was shocked when I read the definitions that suggested it was vulgar.

      [What in the world were you doing in Michigan? Lovely state, but a bit far from home for you…]

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      1. 🙂 We were spending time with a friend I have known for 25 years who moved there from the UK 4 years ago with her husband. It was, and still is, so cold there. Your state seems close but is probably a very long way away, so don’t know if you have the same weather. It was mad, and wonderful. Everyone was very welcoming. We visited some wacky places and had a fabulous time.

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        1. Michigan is always cool, both temp and places to visit. We are the state next door but about a gazillion hours by car away. I’m glad you had fun. Wacky is good.

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        2. Speaking of the word ass, I love the phrase when something bites you in the ass. We can’t say that here, it just doesn’t work with arse (hope not too vulgar). So descriptive and so appropriate in some situations.

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          1. Polly, I’d forgotten about that saying. It’s accurate some times, but I don’t know that I’ve ever said it. Not because it’s vulgar, but because I don’t think of it. Some many words, so few brain cells working…

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  5. All this kick-ass kick-ass talk has caused a resurfacing of a favorite word buried in the depths of my over-crowded brain’s filing cabinet. Kicksy-wicksy is an adjective meaning “fantastic; restless; as, kicksy-wicksy flames.”

    Perhaps you could shoot some kicksy-wicksy flames in the direction of those folks claiming your kick-assedness is vulgar.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Deborah, I’ve never heard the word kicksy-wicksy but I like it. Leave it to you to know it! I like your idea of shooting some kicksy-wicksy-ness at the haters of kick-ass. [Now there’s a sentence… 😯]

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  6. I think it’s the use of “ass” that makes it vulgar. Like, you probably wouldn’t say it in polite conversation perhaps. I don’t think of badass as a vulgarity either, but I would probably not say it around my mom though I would be fine with saying it to my students.

    Also, I love Merriam-Webster, but you probably already knew that. English majors unite!

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    1. Akilah, I imagine that you’re right about why this word is sometimes considered vulgar. Kick-ass, smart-ass, badass, whoop-ass are all of the same type. Ironically if one talks of donkeys as asses it’s ok.

      Yes, the dictionary is friend to all English majors. So true.

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  7. I used to think smiley faces and other emojis were silly. Until I entered the world of social media. There I learned that in the absence of body language and facial expressions, our thoughts aren’t always conveyed how we mean them. So enter the emoji for me. Wink, smile, laugh. I use them all. I even use the dreaded exclamation point to show my happiness or excitement over something. Sigh.

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    1. Carrie, I was reluctant to use emojis at first. I thought they detracted from my words, but like you I’ve learned what they mean and how to use them judiciously. I think they’re cute now, and believe that they make me a kick-ass commenter. 😎

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  8. I was going to say the same thing as Akilah, perhaps they were confusing kick-ass with bad-ass but she beat me to it. I don’t consider it vulgar. There are plenty of other words out there that get that distinction. LOVE the quote.

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    1. Janet, I was surprised when I saw that the dictionary said that kick-ass could be considered vulgar. I think that Akilah nailed it. I plan on using and being kick-ass when warranted. Less apples to throw that way.

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    1. Jan, good ways to say kick-ass without saying it directly. Around [uptight?] people who are easily offended, “kicking some behind” would be a better word choice. I’ll remember that. Of course, I can’t tell you the last time I actually used the word kick-ass in conversation, but now I have an alternative, I’m prepared.

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    1. camparigirl, oddly enough it was the distinction in usage between verb and adjective that got me researching kick-ass to begin with. I then fell down the research rabbit hole looking at definitions for the adjective. Thus this post.

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  9. Kick-ass? Totally cool word Ally Bean thank you! Kick some ass may have a different connotation … that sounds a bit ruddy rude …. Kick-ass is not a word in my usual vocab or even here in SA but I’m gonna USE it from now on! Hope I don’t get apples thrown at me by people who know me ..

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    1. Susan, I hear people use kick-ass often. It’s meant to indicate that something or someone is above average, hip, wonderful. When I saw that the word could be considered vulgar, I was amazed. Still am, actually. I agree that “kick some ass” is a ruder phrase, but kick-ass? Me still like.

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  10. In my humble opinion, the only time kick-ass becomes vulgar is when someone postures as being kick-ass when in fact they are behaving like only an ass.

    … as opposed to you which always have a lot of kick 😎

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    1. Joanne, that’s a good way to think about this word. No doubt your scenario plays out too often. I, of course, am kick-ass in the best sense of this word. Thank you for noticing. 😌

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    1. Janet, I can honestly say that until I needed to research this word, I’d never considered anything about it. Now I feel that I know too much about it and its hyphen.

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  11. It’s funny you decided to write about this because earlier today I thought about the word “sucks.” I was listening to former FBI Director James Comey being interviewed on Fresh Air, and he was asked at the very end about the informal writing style he uses in his new book (i.e shucks, golly, and, sucks). It got me thinking how back in high school a girl in my class was suspended for using “sucks” while speaking at an assembly. It was considered a slur. I sure would never think “kickass” to be a slur, but I suppose it’s in the eye, ‘er, ear of the beholder. – Marty

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    1. Marty, I remember a time when I’d have never said the word “sucks.” It seemed rude and vulgar. Now, of course, it’s just another informal phrase that I use to express myself and be understood. Language evolves as society grows and changes, so maybe kick-ass is an example of that.

      I’d forgotten that Comey’s book came out today. Now that I know there’s a Fresh Air interview with him I’ll have to give it a listen. Hope it doesn’t suck. 😉

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  12. I suspect the pearl-clutching comes from the use of the word “ass” in this case, which I would ASSume to mean posterior and not donkey. Which may or may not be correct, when you consider “ass-kicking boots” which could sound like something you could use to kick a donkey, but in what world does kicking a donkey make you a go-getter?! At best it makes you a “vigorous” animal-abuser.

    I am also not vulgar, but I’m pretty sure I’ve used kick-ass (kick ass?) as well. You can’t un-faint (in this case, feint) all of the people all of the time.

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    1. Isa-Lee, I’d not thought about ass-kicking boots which I do not own, but have coveted from time-to-time. I think you get to the heart of this tempest in a teacup controversy when you say: “You can’t un-faint (in this case, feint) all of the people all of the time.”

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    1. Dan, my WP editor allows either spelling of kick-ass or kickass. I only went with the hyphenated one because Merriam-Webster told me it was correct. I get the idea that this word is one in the process of becoming standardized. Care to wager on which spelling will win?

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  13. “Vulgar” seems like a rather old-fashioned word, doesn’t it? I mean with so much out there that is just plain disgusting (starting at the very top, of course), it’s hard to imagine that anyone would be offended by kick-ass/kickass. I remember when my mother-in-law – a very proper lady – said that she thought the word “kids” was vulgar. She felt that “children” was the proper word. I knew then and there that I would probably be offending this dear lady regularly.

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    1. Janis, vulgar is a word I rarely hear or read anywhere. Caught my eye, it did. I agree, with all that is said in interviews and in song lyrics and on social media, how could kick-ass be offensive? We got better things to be offended by!

      I remember an older neighbor lady being displeased with me for using “kids” instead of “children.” I’d forgotten about that. She was an uptight church lady, a former farmer moved into town, with no sense of humor. I wonder if today those people who are disturbed by kick-ass fit the same discription. 😉

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  14. Kick-ass = Vulgar? No way! I love that expression and plan to keep using it.
    I also love your ending quote…and will definitely be using that too! Thanks for sharing it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Donna, thank you for your support on this issue! I don’t find kick-ass vulgar or rude, so I plan on continuing to use it. I don’t have good aim when I throw things, but I’m not going to let that stop me from throwing a few apples. From time-to-time. As need be.

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  15. I graduated from college at 27 after taking four years off (or going part time) because I couldn’t afford tuition. When I DID finally graduate, I was quite proud of graduating with my non-traditional status and jokingly asked my mom to put “you kick ass” on my cake. (My mother has used profanity maybe twice in my life long memory). I had to laugh when I arrived to my gathering and found “you kick butt”. She said she just couldn’t make herself swear on a cake.

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    1. Kate, that’s a wonderful story. Thanks for sharing it here. I imagine that for some people they’ll never, ever be able to allow themselves to “curse” in any way… even when asked to do so for a noble and worthy reason. Congrats on getting your degree. You kick ass. 😊

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  16. Lots of great discussion here. I’ll refrain from repeating any of the other commenters re: why it’s considered vulgar, and only offer this: maybe take a look at what dictionaries use as the meaning of “vulgar.”

    (Yet another rabbit hole for you, Ally, and other Word Nerds. And I can recommend a great book by Kory Stamper, who is on staff at Merriam Webster, “Word by Word”. In it, she writes very conversationally about how words get into the dictionary, how they write definitions for them, and why some “words that aren’t words”, like irregardless, are, in fact, in the Merriam Webster dictionary. (Much to everyone’s chagrin, mine included.)

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    1. nance, a fast perusal of “vulgar” tells me that it can mean “belonging to the masses.” In which case, kick-ass fits the bill.

      I’ll add the Stamper book to my list. Words, and the history behind them, are one of my joys in life. Not that I remember the details like I once did, but I like being aware of the fact that language is not always what it seems.

      IF “Ain’t ain’t a word ‘cuz it ain’t in the dictionary” THEN “Irregardless isn’t a word irregardless that it’s in the dictionary.” 🤓

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  17. I vividly remember the days when uttering any compound word form of “ass” drew looks of shock and outrage and had parents looking for the bar of soap. It seems like some forms of “ass” have now become acceptable even in delicate social situations. I’ll see your kickass, and raise you my tendency to be a dumbass…

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    1. evil, I remember those days, too. I never would have said any of these “ass” words when I was a teenager, but now… things have changed. The fact that people who read my PG-13 blog aren’t offended by kick-ass is all the proof I need, you dumbass! 🙃

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  18. I liked you reflection on the various ways Kickass can be used/interpreted, but I especially enjoyed the apple quote. I want to use it soon, maybe today. Hahahahaha!

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    1. In My Cluttered Attic [Not Closet], that’ll be the day when anyone thinks I have a pottymouth! Well, anyone who is clued into the world around them, that is.

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  19. Funny that you shared that saying/quote. I was just talking to colleagues today about a study someone did that showed apples could increase alertness as much as coffee. Most of my colleagues were doubtful, but one smart aleck said it’d work if someone threw the apple at you… Sounds like we’ve been wasting time eating apples when we could just throw them!

    P.S. Ages ago, when I was deciding what dictionary app to get, I chose Merriam-Webster because it just seemed better than the other ones. Knowing it has the endorsement of someone who did an English major makes me feel better about my choice 😉

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    1. Pistachios, your story is timely and such a perfect example of the power of an apple! Don’t you love it when little moments in life come together for you?

      [Eating apples are like drinking coffee? I’ll have to think on that.]

      I was forced to use Merriam-Webster Dictionary in college. It was required. But now I rather like it just because– and because on Twitter M-W does a good job of trolling anything or anyone stupid in the news.

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      1. Haha yes, it’s great how everything came together!
        The theory is that eating crunchy apples wakes you up and increases alertness. I suppose the sugar probably helps too.

        Ooh I’ll have to follow them on Twitter!

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  20. There is so much power and meaning conveyed with a well-placed vulgarity, I would hate to have to exclude those from my vocabulary. Or be told that “ladies” don’t speak or write THOSE words. It makes me want to use them more, because I hate to be told what I can or cannot do, as a fucking lady.

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    1. The Widow Badass, you said it! I was surprised about kick-ass– and the implication that I might be less than a lady when I use it. I agree that well-placed vulgarity can make a point/settle an argument faster than a wordier explanation.

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    1. Val, a few other people have told me the same thing about kick arse. I guess that it’s just as well that I like to kick-ass then! [What a conversation I’ve had with this word.]

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    1. I usually steer clear from profanity, not that I’m perfect about it. But finding out that kick-ass might be considered vulgar was an eye-opener. Maybe I’m swearing more than I know!

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