View Full Version : Half-Assed or Half-Fast?

08-28-2001, 12:19 PM
When describing the sloppy or shoddy completion of a task, is the correct term 'half-assed' or 'half-fast'? I've always thought it was the former, however SWMBO insists that it is the latter. In any event, what's the origin?

08-28-2001, 12:29 PM
Definitely the former.

08-28-2001, 12:34 PM
"Half-fast"? :confused:

Tom and Ray have a running joke regarding one's "vast experience" and the other's "half-vast experience," but that's the closest I've ever heard to the posited formation.

Definitely "half-assed."

08-28-2001, 12:39 PM
And regarding origins, m-w.com comes to the rescue.

Main Entry: half-assed
Pronunciation: 'haf-'ast, 'h[a']f-'[a']st
Function: adjective
Date: circa 1932
1 often vulgar : lacking significance, adequacy, or completeness
2 often vulgar : lacking intelligence, character, or effectiveness
- half-assed adverb, often vulgar

08-28-2001, 03:08 PM
Yeah, definitely half-assed.
Reminds me of a friend who used to say "6 and a half, a dozen" instead of "6 of 1, half a dozen of the other". Had a lot of laughs with her over that one.

08-28-2001, 03:18 PM
I've got a promo t-shirt from Compaq that says their computers are "Not Half-Fast". That's the only time I've ever seen the latter construct, and it was clearly wordplay.

08-28-2001, 03:21 PM
Originally posted by KneadToKnow
"Half-fast"? :confused:

Sign in a friend's tavern:


I am not a fast bartender.
I am not a slow bartender.
I am a half-fast bartender.

08-28-2001, 04:35 PM
In the Rolling Stones song "It's All Over Now", there's a line that could be heard either "spend all my money/playin' her high fast game", or "playin' her half-assed game". The second makes more sense, but is a bit racy for 1964. Anybody know the right lyrics?

08-28-2001, 05:26 PM
I believe the lyric is "high-class game."

08-28-2001, 05:49 PM
D'oh! (if true) I guess I should take this to the "high-class or half-assed" thread.

08-28-2001, 05:50 PM
Originally posted by lno
And regarding origins, m-w.com comes to the rescue.
. . .
Date: circa 1932American Slang by Robert Chapman says it dates from the late 1800s. According to him, it may be "a humorous mispronunciation of haphazard".

08-28-2001, 10:19 PM
Lighter: adj.,meaning contemptible, half-baked, stupid, etc. 1863, "there goes our half-assed Adjutant."

As an adj. meaning "halfway, poorly, etc., he cites 1929-33, "If I plan to do something, I don't see any reason to do it half ass.

08-30-2001, 12:04 AM
I believe I read somewhere that the half-assed or half-ass comes from days when one would employ and ass or mule to do a certain amount of work. Poor work was satirically equivalent to the work done by half an ass. Why there isn't a half-mule or half-horse, donkey or any other variation, I don't know.

Ok, so this was a half-assed attempt at answering the question.

I digress.


08-30-2001, 06:44 AM
American Slang by Robert Chapman says it dates from the late 1800s. According to him, it may be "a humorous mispronunciation of haphazard".

I like that explanation, because "half-assed" has always bothered me. Does that mean that something done well is "whole assed"? How does being associated with half an ass (of whatever kind) make something bad?

08-30-2001, 08:27 AM
When in doubt, the naughty version is real and the "clean" one is a silly euphemism.

08-30-2001, 11:04 PM
Chapman may be the only source who thinks it could have come from a mispronounciation of haphazard.

Look at Lighter's cite from 1863, "there goes our half-assed Adjutant," and suggest where haphazard comes into play in the meaning of the word. Yes, I know that the adjective meant two different things in the mid/late 1800's, but the phrase was already establised by 1863 and couldn't have come from haphazard, IMHO.

08-31-2001, 07:44 AM
Isn't there a Homer Simpson quote with this?

08-31-2001, 07:46 AM
Yes. See Ino's reply above.

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