Unass and ass up

We like ass at Strong Language, and it’s an impressively productive piece of vocabulary. Recently I came across a whole new use of it – new to me, that is – in Jay Dobyns’s undercover-biker memoir No Angel. That use is unass, and it turns out to have more than one meaning.

Here it is in Dobyns’s book:

1. About a hundred miles in, we pulled off at Cordes Junction to gas up. We stopped at a Mobil and unassed. My legs and shoulders were killing me.

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Much ado ablaut shitting

pile-of-poo

Shit has been with us an awfully long time—it appears in Old English as scitan—yet we can’t seem to agree on the past tense of the verb. Is it shit? Shat? Shitted?

My theory for why we haven’t settled this issue has partly to do with its ‑it ending, which, based on similar verbs in English, can get pulled in several different directions as we try to derive a past form. And because shit is vulgar, we generally use it less often than other verbs ending in ‑it.

Screen Shot 2015-07-07 at 11.11.02 AM
Not exhaustive, obviously, but an example showing the relative frequency of English verbs that SHIT might emulate.

So rather than having a past tense at the ready, maybe we build it on the go, by analogy: Continue reading