Green’s Dictionary of Slang

pain in the arse n.

also ass-pain, pain in the ass, ...asshole, ...backside, ...balls, ...bleep, ...bum, ...butt, ...bustle, ...can, ...clinkers, ...fanny, ...hole, ...kazakis, ...whoosis, boil in the arse, p.i.t.a.
[arse n. (1)/ass n. (2)/asshole n. (1)/backside n. (1)/balls n. (1)/bleep n./bum n.1 (1)/butt n.1 (1a)/clinkers n. (4)/hole n.1 (1a)/whoozis n. (2)]

1. a feeling of irritation; usu. as give someone a pain in the arse

[US]C. Odets Awake and Sing! II i: What’s it get you? [...] a pain in the bustle it gets you.

2. an annoying person.

[US]L. Berg Prison Nurse (1964) 113: Dames are a pain in the whoosis.
[US]H. Miller Tropic of Cancer (1963) 3: You can see immediately what a pain in the ass the Borowskis are.
[US]H. Roth Call It Sleep (1977) 321: Cheez! If I’d aknown you wuz such a pain inna can I wouldna let yuh come up hea.
[US]H. Miller Roofs of Paris (1983) 175: The old geezer who keeps her is getting to be a pain in the ass.
[US]Kerouac letter 24 June in Charters II (1999) 44: Mexicans are a pain in the ass in a different way.
[US]C. Cooper Jr Syndicate (1998) 47: You’re getting to be a pain in the ass.
[UK]N. Cohn Awopbop. (1970) 224: When they turn profound, they’re a pain in the arse.
[US]Hall & Adelman Gentleman of Leisure 104: But sometimes you’re a pain in the bleep.
[US]E. Droge Patrolman 31: Sometimes they can be a real pain in the balls.
[US]E. Torres Carlito’s Way 88: Reggie. Fuckin’ pain in the ass.
[UK]A. Bleasdale It’s a Madhouse (1986) 133: You’ve been nothing but a pain in the arse all bloody night long.
[US]J. Sayles Union Dues (1978) 231: Don’t be a pain in the butt.
[SA]A. Brink Rumours of Rain 89: Don’t be such a boil-in-the-arse, man.
[UK]P. Redmond Tucker and Co 54: Right pain in the bum she is about Canada. Wish she’d bloomin’ well stopped there.
[UK]‘Derek Raymond’ He Died with His Eyes Open 69: E used to come in here. Pain in the arse. Name of Stan or something.
[US]Pileggi & Scorsese Goodfellas [film script] 48: She’s such a pain in the ass.
[Ire]F. Mac Anna Last of the High Kings 120: Everyone regarded Cyril as a pain in the hole.
[UK]D. Jarman letter 29 Mar. Smiling in Slow Motion (2000) 105: He found gruff Yorkshiremen a pain in the arse.
[Ire](con. 1946) S. McAughtry Touch and Go 178: It wasn’t as if I’d always been a pain in the clinkers to him.
T. Rathbone Moderns for Dummies 378: PITA What It means: ‘pain in the ***’ Example: ‘IMHO, people who don’t read the FAQ are a real PITA.’.
[UK]K. Lette Foetal Attraction (1994) 10: The trouble with Born Again New Men, is that they’re an even bigger pain in the bum the second time round.
[UK]M. Walters Echo 359: Okay, he were a pain in the butt most of the time, but I’d kind of got used to him.
[US]‘Bill E. Goodhead’ Nubile Treat [Internet] If you’re going to be such a pain in the asshole when I try to make conversation, you can just go fuck off!
[US]P. Cornwell Point of Origin (1999) 209: I like you a lot, even if you are a pain in the fucking ass.
[UK]N. Cohn Yes We Have No 38: A pain in the arse to one and all.
[UK]Indep. Rev. 3 Sept. 8: They’re a pain in the backside.
[US]F. Kellerman Stalker (2001) 309: I’m a real pain in the butt for you, aren’t I?
P. Robinson USS Seawolf 330: ‘Because in the end they could turn out to be a real PITA.’ ‘A what?’ ‘PITA. Pain in the Ass.’.
[Aus]Bug (Aus.) June [Internet] Queensland to win Spate of Origami 1 and the series, with John Hopoate’s Golden Point to decide whether Guts Ghoul or Wayne Bunny is the bigger pain in the arse.
[US]Simon & Price ‘All Due Respect’ Wire ser. 3 ep. 2 [TV script] Tommy’s a good kid usually, an ass-pain when he wants something.
[UK]J.J. Connolly Viva La Madness 9: I find the guests a right pain in the arse.
[UK]V. McDermid Out of Bounds (2017) 406: ‘I know I’m a pain in the arse too. But you know I’m right’.

3. an annoying object, situation or circumstance; note extrapolation in Gwaltney 1980 cit.

[US]H.M. Robsinson Perfect Round 50: The one unforgettable pain in the arse from the last war is the memory of those loud-mouthed jerks from Texas.
J. Kafka Apple Orchard 55: If I was you, Boss, I wouldn’t stand for no such pain in the ass.
[US]M. Spillane One Lonely Night 87: A car in the city could be a pain in the butt.
[US]F. Paley Rumble on the Docks (1955) 110: This Marchesi case was a pain in the ass.
[UK]J. Osborne Epitaph for George Dillon Act II: Life isn’t simple [...] it’s frankly a pain in the arse.
[US]J. Kirkwood There Must Be a Pony! 135: It’s just a royal pain in the kazakis.
[US]N. Heard Howard Street 18: Her and her damned ‘orderly house’ business were a pain in the ass.
[US]T. Thackrey Thief 27: Have to start right at the bottom again [...] and that’s a pain in the fanny.
[US]J.L. Gwaltney Drylongso 33: This bleeding every month is a pure-dee pain where me and the chair come together.
[US]Jackson & Christian Death Row 130: Actually, the TVs are a pain in the ass.
[UK]J. Mowry Way Past Cool 55: Be a pain in the butt findin bullets for it.
[US]D. Clowes Ghost World 25: You have to act a certain way [...] and it’s a real pain in the ass!
[UK]Observer Rev. 9 Apr. 5: Unfortunately, it’s also the thing that makes the whole venture a complete pain in the ass.
[US]T. Fontana ‘A Cock and Balls Story’ Oz ser. 4 ep. 1 [TV script] She didn’t turn up for her shift so they asked me to stay, which is a royal pain in my ass.
[US]P. Cornwell Last Precinct 77: Including a weirdo one that’s going to be a pain in the butt.
[UK]N. Griffiths Stump 68: Pain in the fuckin arse, to say the friggin least.
[Aus]S. Maloney Sucked In 8: Half a dozen of us trooping round the back-blocks [...] It had been a proper pain in the bum.
[US](con. 1973) C. Stella Johnny Porno 20: What a pain in the ass it was to have to shop with fives.
[UK]Guardian 3 June [Internet] Shifting 80,000 photos to a new platform was just too much of a PITA.
[US]D. Winslow The Force [ebook] It was a pain in the ass.

In phrases

give someone a pain in the arse (v.) (also give someone a pain in the ass, ...behind, ...bum, ...can, ...foot, ...pants, ...tail, ...an ache in the back of their lap) [ass n. (2)/bum n.1 (1)/can n.1 (1b)/tail n. (1)]

of people, objects or situations, to irritate someone.

[US]F. Hutchison Philosophy of Johnny the Gent 5: What's the matter with the Handshaker an' the Wise Crackin' Kid? [...] Ain't they speakin'? Them guys gimme a pain in me foot.
[[US]O.O. McIntyre New York Day by Day 11 Apr. [synd. col.] He intends to give old J. Caesar a piece of his mind as it seems he always gave him a localized pain when he had to read his stuff].
[UK]M. Marshall Tramp-Royal on the Toby 290: Those bozos sure give me a pain in the pants.
[US]B. Appel Brain Guy 92: You give me a pain in the behind.
[US]J.H. O’Hara Appointment in Samarra (1935) 122: If you don’t mind me saying so, you give me a pain in the arse.
[US]R. Chandler ‘Pearls Are a Nuisance’ in Spanish Blood (1946) 128: Them guys give me an ache in the back of my lap.
[US]H. Miller Tropic of Capricorn (1964) 14: The mother especially gave me a pain in the ass.
[UK]H. Brown Walk in Sun 121: Ward gives me a pain in the tail. All sergeants give me a pain in the tail.
[US](con. 1944) N. Mailer Naked and Dead 542: They give me a pain in the ass.
[US]J.D. Salinger Catcher in the Rye (1958) 32: He gave out a big yawn while he said that. Which is something that gives me a royal pain in the ass.
[US]H. Ellison ‘Johnny Slice’s Stoolie’ Deadly Streets (1983) 77: Cops give me a pain in the can.
[UK]A. Sinclair My Friend Judas (1963) 51: This Old Faithful and Fauntleroy act really does give me a pain in the bum.
[US] in P.R. Runkel Law Unto Themselves 94: Your kind give me a pain in the ass.
[UK]F. Norman Too Many Crooks Spoil the Caper 110: The wrong ‘uns that’ve crossed my path lately would give a dedicated social worker a pain in the arse.
[UK]I. Welsh ‘A Soft Touch’ in Acid House 47: Hell, what a pain in the arse that gave us.