The word jackass is funny because it has a double meaning, being both a male donkey and a foolish individual. Obscenity evolves from something innocent till it ends up crossing social norms. The words bitch and ass both started out as literally meaning types of animals, being a female dog and a donkey. English is a fluid language, that is in a constant state flux, evolving all the time with words becoming defunct and new ones replacing them. The word ass started out in Old English as aers, which meant the back end of anything, not just animals. This is similar to the British word arse, with the letters being shuffled around. In US English we say ass where the ‘r’ is changed to an ‘s’ and the ‘e’ is dropped out.
Many compound words can be formed using the word ass to describe different types of people like: “assbag”, “assbite”, “assclown”, “assface”, “asshole”, “asslicker”, “assmuncher”, “asswipe”, “dumbass”, and the list goes on. People can be broke-assed, cheap-assed, crazy-assed, lame-assed, lazy-assed, lying-assed, sorry-assed, ugly-assed and weird-assed. Someone might be called a “horse’s ass”, girls are often looked at as being a “piece of ass”, some people like to go around “kicking ass”, and of course others love to be “kissing ass” and there will always be those who want to “shove it up your ass”. Someone might say, “You better get your sorry ass over here, because your ass is in trouble.”
In ancient Rome the festival of Vestalia was celebrated to honor the hard working donkeys who were used to grind the grain so the Romans could bake bread. The donkey is strong and fit for burden and it always went to work as soon as the day began. They pulled carts with heavy loads and they turned the mills to grind grain, by walking around in circles all day long. The donkey is no dumbass, they are real smart, patient, extremely strong, and not in any way intimidated. Donkeys think, reason, and they have the ability to make decisions. That gives them all the ammunition they need to test your patience, and from this they get the reputation of being stubborn. Donkeys are known for their stubbornness, but they also understand the futility of resistance. A donkey won’t startle easily, when facing danger there is a good chance that they will not flee. People attribute this to stubbornness, but it’s just their way of problem solving and trying to survive. Donkeys are very gentle, they are also patient and trusting with people that they know.
They are incredibly surefooted, which allows them to traverse diverse terrain that is too rough for horses. Donkeys are more independent in their thinking than horses, and they will reason first, and then make decisions based on their safety. Donkeys have an incredible memory and you can’t force them into doing something, that they see as being contrary to their own best interest or safety. Their infamous stubbornness often keeps them and their riders out of danger. Donkeys have a reputation for being slow-moving creatures, but in fact many can move as swiftly as a horse, especially when they know that dinner is being served.
The word asinine is often used to refer to a person who is foolish, unintelligent, silly, stupid and has the characteristics of a donkey and a jackass refers to an idiot or a jerk who generally makes a fool of himself. Asinine can also mean daft, imbecilic, irrational, ludicrous, moronic and pointless. I think that people who do not understand donkeys have given them a bad rap. It is kind of amazing that I was able to write a whole post about jackasses and I did not mention Trump at all.