Green’s Dictionary of Slang

arsehole n.

[arse n. (1) + SE hole; note Wright, Vol. Vocabs., 1857, citing 14C OE/Lat. vocab., Arce-hoole, podex; see also asshole n.]

1. [mid-16C+] the anus.

2. [1920s+] (orig. US) the least appetizing, poorest, most run-down and dangerous area of a city or town or place.

3. [1930s+] (orig. US) a general term of abuse for an individual.

4. [1940s+] (also arsehold) the end, the back of anything.

5. [2000s] courage.

In derivatives

arseholed (adj.)

[1940s+] very drunk.

arseholery (n.)

[1990s+] (also assholery) stupidity, nonsense; bad behaviour.

arseholey (adj.)

1. [late 19C+] sycophantic [arsehole crawl v.].

2. [1990s+] a general derog. term.

3. used as adv.

arseholishness (n.)

[2000s] acting like an idiot, being annoying, a general derog.

In compounds

arsehole lucky (adj.)

[1950s+] extremely fortunate.

arsehole perisher (n.) [SE perish, to suffer the cold]

[1900s] a short jacket.

arsehole polisher (n.)

[1970s] a sycophant, a toady.

In phrases

arsehole of the universe (n.) (also arsehole of creation, ...the world, asshole of creation, ...of the world, ...of the universe, bunghole of the universe) [note description of Holland as ‘the Buttock of the world, full of veins and blood, but no bones in’t’ in A Brief Character of the Low Countries (1660) and Primo Levi’s ref. to Auschwitz as anus mundi, a Lat. synon.]

[late 17C; mid-19C+] applied to anywhere considered especially unpleasant on a global or, hyperbolically, local level.

dark as an abo’s arsehole (adj.)

[1960s] (Aus.) very dark.

from arsehole to breakfast time (also from arse to breakfast, from arsehole..., breakfast table, from backbone..., from haircut...) [late 19C+]

1. all the way, all the time, completely.

2. very unsatisfactory, totally confused, very chaotic; thus not know if it is arsehole or breakfast time v., to be very confused.

give someone arseholes (v.)

[1960s] (N.Z.) to harass, to berate.

give someone the arsehole (v.)

[2000s] to infuriate.

not know if one’s arsehole is bored or punched (v.) (also not know if one’s arsehole is bored, punched, drilled or countersunk; ...drilled, bored or countersunk; not know if one is punched, bored or countersunk) [? engineering use]

[1920s+] to be an absolute fool; to be wholly disorientated.

stupid as arseholes (adj.)

[1920s+] extremely stupid.

talk out of one’s arsehole (v.) (also talk out of one’s asshole)

[1990s+] to talk nonsense.

tear one’s arsehole out (v.) (also tear one’s asshole out)

[20C+] to work furiously.

up arsehole street (also in arsehole street)

[1950s+] in difficulties, facing problems.

white as midnight’s arsehole (adj.)

[mid-16C–mid-17C] absolutely dark, totally black.

In exclamations


[late 19C+] rubbish! nonsense! .

my arsehole! (also my asshole!)

[20C+] a general excl. of disdain, dismissal, arrogant contempt.