Is this phrase polite?

eghbali2266

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Hi.
When we say oh, that's a kick ass. It means wow, that's cool. Is this phrase polite or not though?
Thanks in advance
 

Tdol

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I wouldn't use a kick ass, though other speakers may. I would use it as a verb and say that something kicks ass. It's slang, so it's not polite, but it's not particularly rude.
 

emsr2d2

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In your sentence, you've used it as noun. Like Tdol, I don't think that works. I have heard it used as an adjective though - "That's a kick-ass car!"; "I went out for dinner last night and we had kick-ass Afghani food!"

I don't use it myself - I associate it more with American English (partly because of the use of the word "ass").
 

GoesStation

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Hi.
When we say oh, that's a kick ass. It means wow, that's cool. Is this phrase polite or not though?
Thanks in advance

Leave out the article and it's OK: Oh, that's kick-ass. It means "that's great." It's only polite in a context that allows casual, mildly vulgar language.
 
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Tdol

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That works in BrE too.
 

TheParser

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Hello, Eghbali:

I feel that "kick-ass" is neither polite nor rude when it means "cool."

In my opinion, I think that it is just the kind of "tough" talk that many males like (and probably some females, too).

I think that it's fine if you want to tell your family or friends: "I'm taking a really kick-ass grammar class. There are only 50 seats, but dozens of students were standing in the aisles today as Professor Smith explained the position of adverbs. Man! He is a kick-ass dude!"

I would, however, suggest that you NOT use it when it means to "punish":


Raul: Do it now!

Joe: No!

Raul: You (had) better do it now, or I'll kick your -ss!

Joe: You and who else? ( = You are not big enough to kick my -ss!. You will need at least one other person to help you.)

As you can see, Raul has placed himself in a very embarrassing position.
 

Tdol

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emsr2d2

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I was referring to "That's a kick ass" (post #1). Given that I'd never heard the term used that way before, and the positioning of the indefinite article, I took "kick ass" to be a two-word noun.
 

GoesStation

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I'm not aware of kick-ass existing as a noun. As far as I know, it can only be an adjective.
 

Charlie Bernstein

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Hi.
When we say oh, that's a kick ass. It means wow, that's cool. Is this phrase polite or not though?
Thanks in advance

Tdol and Ems are exactly right. It's a slang American adjective. We don't say "That's a kick ass." We say "That's kick-ass," meaning "That's powerful."

It doesn't mean "cool." For example, a laundry detergent might be kick-ass, but it's probably not cool.

When used as an adjective, it's crude but not rude. When we use it as a noun and verb combination it might or might not be polite, depending on the context.

Polite:

- Our team really kicked ass yesterday. (Our team played really well and won.)

Rude:

- If you bother my little brother again, I'll kick your ass. (If you bother my little brother again, I'll beat you up.)

I hope that helps!
 

Raymott

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I can't believe that 14,000+ people have read this thread! But that's why I try to help some posters who I know will probably never understand what I'm saying. Someone will.
 

Charlie Bernstein

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I was referring to "That's a kick ass" (post #1). Given that I'd never heard the term used that way before, and the positioning of the indefinite article, I took "kick ass" to be a two-word noun.

Then it would need a comma and would be rude (at least in American English). In American English, kick ass (always a verb phrase) and kick-ass (always an adjective) mean completely different things.
 

Lynxear

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The true meaning of "kick ass" depends a lot on context. You will find is used mostly by the under 40 crowd, not the older generation.

It is common in Canadian English but it is probably borrowed from American English.

The sentiment is not particularly polite and I would not use it when talking to a senior person. For one reason being that they may not understand what you are saying and they may misinterpret what you are saying. It is like using the word "sick" to describe something a person wears or does as being awesome. Most over 60 years old don't take "sick" to mean anything other than ill health.

It also depends on whether "kick ass" is a verb or an adjective.

Verb

John is not happy with those guys as they are bullies. He will kick ass if he sees them again.

John is looking for a fight.

That dress will kick ass when you go to the prom dance.

You look so good in that dress that all the girls at the dance will be jealous.

As an adjective

That is a kick ass motorcycle!

I have never seen a better looking motorcycle. I want to own it.

In general, when used as an adjective it is the same as saying something is "awesome". As a verb, you need context to determine its meaning.

As far as being polite or not, it depends on its meaning and what age group is using the words. It is not something that the over 50 age group would say.
It would be weird if someone like your parents used "kick ass" in their conversation. It is not because they would be impolite, it is more that people that old don't use that type of slang.
 
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