Monday, 15 October 2007

Half Assed, the meaning of

When something is done half assed, it is not done properly. Why half an ass? So to have a FULL ASS job done, one must screw it up completely? Use the whole ASS. I have never given this any thought. Half ass is half ass. I never questioned why half an ass would be half of a proper job. I keep seeing half a butt in my mind. (Half ass in the hand is worth two in the bush?)
Here is a possible answer to why something is half ass.
An ADZE is a woodworking tool that has been used for thousands of years. It is used to “finish” the surface of timber. So if you ordered a product from timber that was only finished on one side properly, as in the visible side, it was done half adzed. Full adze would be both sides. No need to do extra work or pay for something you will not see.
Over the years this evolved into half assed.
Also a mispronunciation of “haphazard” they say, but I cannot work that one out. ( Haph Assard?)
This is a full ass posting


Scath said...

Your explanation is as good as any I've never seen. I've never given it any thought, myself. =)

Steve Shapiro said...

I just discovered your site while looking for the origins of the word "half-assed." Great content!

Too bad I didn't discover you sooner. I was just in Cape Town. I always like meeting interesting people during my travels.

Anonymous said...

Observation and explanation is very good. Although my explanation vary in that "half-assed (adj./adv.) might mean anything that was done half-hearted (or in my interpretation of half-hearted, it means forcible/forced). My basis is from other people's context and usage of half-hearted. Ass, could mean our own selves/bearing [eg. move your ass, tight ass, nice ass, etc]. Any reproach is welcome for my interpretation.

nicholesap said...

I always thought the phrase "Half-Assed" had to do with labor animals.

Often in the past teams of mules were used instead of oxen or horses. Mules were preferred over horses for pulling loads, but not as good as oxen for long-distance, heavy loads. And pairs of stock were always preferable to a single animal so that one could pick up the slack if the other wasn't able to keep up.

I would imagine that if one of your mules died during a trek, and you had to complete your trip with one animal it could have become known as doing something "Half-Assed"... meaning you finished with half the team you started with.

But the Half-Adzed etimology is more in keeping with the essence of the phrase.