Green’s Dictionary of Slang

kick ass v.

also kick A, kiss arse, kick behind, kick butt
[lit. + fig. uses of kick someone’s ass under ass n.; + arse n. (1)/butt n.1 (1a)]

1. (orig. US) to beat someone up, to fight, also fig. use.

[US]N. Algren Walk on the Wild Side 78: I’m so tired of kickin’ asses I just think I’ll start crushing skulls.
[US]C. Brown Manchild in the Promised Land (1969) 274: He’s just gon have to kick my ass, or I’m gon have to kick his ass.
[US]D. Goines Street Players 165: I wanted to kick the bitch’s ass.
[US]‘Joe Bob Briggs’ Joe Bob Goes to the Drive-In 16: He still kicks behinds like a crazy gorilla. [Ibid.] 103: It’s time for revenge. It’s time for a little justice... It’s time, in other words, to kick A.
[US]NWA ‘Fuck Tha Police’ 🎵 Maybe it’s because I kick so much butt / I kick ass.
[US]C. Hiaasen Lucky You 141: The Dolphins got their asses kicked.
[Aus]Bug (Aus.) 1 Oct. 🌐 But the workers’ town of Newcastle decided to throw a spanner into what passes for Howard’s works by deciding to kick, rather than lick, arse.
[UK]N. Cohn Yes We have No 337: No point in beating about the bush – Odin kicks ass.
[US](con. 1990s) in J. Miller One of the Guys 81: ‘I’m gettin’ my ass kicked for the simple fact I’m disobeyin’ you’.
[Aus](con. 1960s-70s) T. Taylor Top Fellas 63/2: [Bruce Lee] could really go in the arse-kicking department.
[Ire]P. Howard Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nightdress 99: All of which basically translates as, kick orse!
[US]G. Hayward Corruption Officer [ebk] cap. 8: The next rule I found confusing was, ‘Use of force.’ That is right to kick ass rule.
T. Richardson ‘The Proxy’ in ThugLit Sept. [ebook] ‘A butt-kicking?’ [...] ‘A little more than that. Like lyin’ in bed for a few weeks kind of punishment’.
[Aus]C. Hammer Opal Country 336: ‘So that’s why you became a copper. So you could kick arse’.

2. (US campus) to have a good, if boisterous, time.

[US]G. Underwood ‘Razorback Sl.’ AS L (1975) 62: Kicking ass n Wild time.
[UK]Indep Rev 20 Oct. 5: And then they got up and kicked ass. They laughed loudly, and talked dirty and panted passionately and raged rudely and refused, quite simply, to become objects of pity or derision.

3. (orig. US campus) to do well, to make a successful effort.

R. Charles Brother Ray 88: Yes, by 1948 and 1949, I had my program together and was ready to kick some ass.
[US]Eble Campus Sl. Fall 4: kick ass – work hard.
[US]G. Tate – ‘Stagolee Versus the Proper Negro’ in Flyboy in the Buttermilk (1992) 53: Prince done stormed the white castle [...] he came, he saw, he kicked ass.
[US]Da Bomb 🌐 17: Kickin’ ass or kick ass: Do very well. [Ibid.] 17: Kicks butt: Something found to be good or makes a person excited.
[US]F.X. Toole Rope Burns 76: She kicked ass. Four fights and four kayos, two coming in the first minute of the first round.
[UK]Indep. Rev. 22 Oct. 4: I’ve been kicking butt in this town for seven years – trying to make it as a journalist.
[UK]D. Mitchell Black Swan Green 232: It’s arse-kicking we need, not grass-kicking.
[Aus]L. Redhead Cherry Pie [ebook] ‘Totally kicking arse until we got into a fight with that bikie over the two shot rule’.
[Aus]L. Redhead Thrill City [ebook] It’s nice to see a stripper really kicking some arse, you know.
[US]J. Ellroy Widespread Panic 78: I kicked assiduous ass all morning.

In phrases

kick ass and take names (v.)

(US) to act decisively and aggressively.

[US]Student Lawyer 1 n.p.: Urging the group to ‘kick ass and take names,’ Ms. Steinem invited discussion from the floor concerning problems faced by the women at the law school.
[US](con. 1966) P. Conroy Lords of Discipline [ebook] We don’t kiss ass in this room [...] We kick ass instead. We kick ass and take names.
[US]D. Stivers Shot to Hell 179: The BNDD was the forerunner of the Drug Enforcement Administration, and was widely known for its ‘crash doors, kick ass and take names’ policy.
[US]J. Carpenter They Live [film script] ‘I’m here to kick ass and chew bubblegum. And I’m out of bubblegum.
[US]R. Peterson Rights of Passage 303: ‘Probably jump dead in his shit and put a real lick on him, hang him out to dry, put his shit in the wind, kick ass and take names.’ He picked up on my lingo and jumped in, ‘Stack ’em up like cordwood, bring some pee. Did we forget any?’.
[US]M. Prescott Mortal Faults 19: ‘I know a little about self-defense. If push comes to shove — I can shove hard.’ ‘Kick ass and take names?’ ‘I don't take names’.
[UK]D. Smith Death in Leamington 15: I was probably in the best condition of my life, maybe not quite Paula Radcliffe, but I could kick ass and take names with the best of them.