Sunday, October 28, 2012

A few words about "ass".

Let’s talk a little about “ass.” Not the figurative kind you chase, or get a piece of, but the word itself; that oft-used and much-maligned appellation for the human hind end.  

I have a rather extensive menagerie of pet peeves where erotic fiction is concerned, and almost all of them have been piqued at one time or another by something I’ve come across in the work of otherwise gifted—even brilliant—writers. Of all the books I’ve encountered, either as a reviewer or beta reader, perhaps the most persistent and annoying flaw is a dearth of imaginative vocabulary, coupled with the consistent overuse of a few common words. In my own torturously slow writing and self-editing process, I spend a lot more time than I care to admit simply pouring over reference books, dictionaries and thesauruses, ever in search of just the right synonym. Admittedly, I’m a stickler for precise meanings, and a sucker for euphonious wordplay, and the one thing I cannot stand is carelessness with regard to word choices.

Beyond precise definition, the use of any word is dictated to some extent by context and the demands of authenticity. A few months ago, I read a short erotic-fantasy novel in which the author described a solemn religious ritual that involved female nudity and intercourse. After describing this colorful rite in lyrical, evocative, even reverent language, the author came to the point in the story where the young women removed their robes, and offhandedly spoiled the whole effect that had been so carefully established by referring to the girls’ “naked asses.” The use of this one word pulled me out of the narrative matrix, and dissolved the fabric of illusion the author had woven with such skill up to that point.  More recently, I was beta-reading a short story that included a fantasy sequence set in the American Civil War period of the 1860s; a “respectable” young woman is ravished by a cavalry officer. At one point, in telling us how the officer ripped her clothes, the young lady says something to the effect that he had “exposed her ass for all to see.” Problem is, if you know anything about “respectable” women in the 19th century, this kind of vulgarity sounds phony.

Now, in those same books, the word “ass” is used again, but much more appropriately. In the erotic-fantasy novel, the word comes from the drunken mouth of a smelly pig farmer accosting a woman of supposed low repute in a dark alley. Here it sounds just right, and perfectly at home. In the short story, the young woman who fantasized about being ravished back in the 1860s, describes how she masturbates to that same fantasy in the present time, where the word “ass” is perfectly authentic.  

I decided to do a cursory search for synonyms for ass, and here’s what I’ve come up with so far;

Ass: arse (Ant); arsch (Ger); backside; badonkadonk (Slang); behind; bottom; bum (Br); buns; buttocks; butt; culo (Sp); derrière; flanks; fundament; Gluteus Maximus; haunches; hind end; rear end; rump; seat; tuckus (or tuchis) (Yiddish); toosh; tush; tushy . . .

All this has me thinking. The great American industrialist Henry J. Kaiser had a motto, “see a need; fill a need,” and I’ve noticed a need in the community of erotic writers. We need our own specialized thesaurus! That’s why I’m starting a new page on this site, which, I hope, will eventually form the basis for a reference book; The Erotic Writer’s Thesaurus. I would like to invite anyone who visits this site to offer ideas for additional entries and words. The list will expand as I have time to update it, and, let’s hope, become increasingly more useful.  Who out there knows some more words for “ass”? Comment to this post, or e-mail me at Include the word “thesaurus” in the subject line.
PS; don't you just LOVE the word "badonkadonk"???? LOL


  1. I always thought that he word "ass" is better than "rump." Something about the word "rump" is off putting. I can't believe you left out the word, "booty," which is commonly used in my hood.

    1. I will add "booty" to the list! Thanks for pointing out the omission.

  2. We Aussies call it an arse, rather than ass, which I contend is a much better word in the context of erotica. That 'rrr' sound lengthens the word and adds so much. Never liked the word ass! Too short and sharp. Bum is nice in most instances too. Short but not sharp.