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September 18, 2012


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For what a second-hand memory is worth: my dad worked as a railroad telegraph operator starting in the 1920's. He told me (when I was a kid in the 40's) that telegraphers had an unofficial signals vocabulary that included "AO," meaning "asshole."

I read Nunberg's book, and recommend it enthusiastically. (If -ly words are still acceptable, that is.) I had no idea the word had such a distinct set of connotations; I suspect I may have misused it with regard to several unworthy individuals I'd sought to denounce.

john, the Online Etymological Dictionary agrees that the usage is pre-WW2.


I'd say Kid Rock added to the curent usage, as well, with his top-20 Modern Rock hit, "American Badass", a big hit with our uniformed troops ever since its release in 2000. Here's the (barely) NSFW video: http://youtu.be/5G1scyA3UZs

And how about a shout-out for Melvin Van Peebles breakout 1971 tour de force "Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song", considered by some to be the godfather (though not "The Godfather") of the blaxploitation genre?


Thank you for the mention of Big Ass Fans in your 'ass' article. We do take quite a bit of flack for our name - and make the most of it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QmIYMqTao0A

Food truck? When I lived in LA it was a roach coach.

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