The slang and the vulgar phrase “kicking a*s and taking names” is fairly common in English. However, if you don’t know much about its origin, you might be a little confused about its meaning. This article will explain it to you and where it came from.
What Does “Kicking A*s And Taking Names” Mean?
“Kicking a*s and taking names” means that you are doing something with great determination and will succeed at doing it. “Kicking a*s” means to enforce your authority over someone else, while “taking names” means you’re determined to show you’re better than them.
Many people believe it to originate from military slang. It’s a phrase that came about in the late 1900s when people wanted to assert their dominance and show that they were able to “take names” when it came to their ambitions or goals.
The phrase later transitioned to be more related to determination and success, and it has become a very popular phrase today.
What Is The Origin Of “Kicking A*s And Taking Names”?
So, where did it all come from? It might help to know more about it since most idioms have a very distinct origin that explains why we use it the way that we do.
“Kicking a*s and taking names” comes from military slang. It’s a phrase used to enforce your authority over the enemy while collecting their names (as in completely the legal documents of writing somebody’s name down after capture).
The first recorded use of the phrase was in 1962 in Killens “Heard the Thunder.” In this book, references to WWII are made and the phrase “them Japs are kicking a*sses and taking names.”
We can also look at the following graph to see how the phrase has developed in popularity over time. While it didn’t see any mainstream usage until the early 1960s, it’s definitely been the most popular in the last two decades and has grown exponentially since then.
Is It “Kicking A*s And Taking Names” Or “Kick A*s And Take Names”?
There are a few variations of the phrase that we might want to look further into. Sometimes, this helps us to establish which is the most common one to use.
“Kicking a*s and taking names” and “kick a*s and take names” are both correct. The only difference is their tense form.
We can look at this graph to demonstrate how similar they are. Here, “kicking” is more popular than “kick,” but they’re so close together on this graph that the difference is barely noticeable. Also, for a brief period, “kick” was the more appropriate phrase.
So, why do we have these two phrases even if they come with different meanings?
Well, “kicking a*s” is the present perfect tense and refers to an action that we’re doing in the present (or the future if we haven’t got around to the action yet). It’s more common when you have something coming up in your future that you’re determined to succeed with.
On the other side, “kick a*s” is the present simple tense. It’s mostly used when talking about the present tense and actions that we’re currently partaking in. There’s very little chance to reference the future with this tense, which is why it’s slightly less common to use.
Is “Kicking A*s And Taking Names” Or “Kicking Butt And Taking Names” Used The Most?
You might also hear “kicking butt” instead of the more vulgar “a*s.” However, this isn’t nearly as common as you might first think.
According to this graph, “kicking a*s” is used the most. “Kicking butt” is still used, but it’s much less common, and very few people tend to write it.
Many people prefer to say “a*s” over “butt” with this phrase. That’s because “a*s” is more vulgar and often gives a more powerful meaning, which is the aim of the phrase in the first place.
Simply saying “butt” takes away a lot of the impact of the overall meaning, which a lot of people want to avoid doing because it will mean that they’re not showing as much determination as they can if they use the more vulgar option.
It’s likely that the only people using “butt” over “a*s” are religious or conservative people who have a hard time using any forms of swear words.
Examples Of How To Use “Kicking A*s And Taking Names” In A Sentence
We feel like it’s time to go through some examples with you. From these, you’ll be able to work out how to use the phrase and what it applies to more in modern times.
Since war times are less common, we don’t use them in the military sense. Now, it simply means to show determination that you’ll succeed at something.
- I hope you’re ready to kick a*s and take names tomorrow in your game, son!
- You’ll be kicking a*s and taking names until the sun comes up, I’m sure of it.
- He’s been kicking a*s and taking names for as long as I can remember. I’m so proud of him.
- You should remember to kick a*s and take names in your meeting today.
- He always kicks a*s and takes names when it counts, it’s why he’s so successful in life.
- He’s been kicking my butt and taking my name for as long as I can remember, and it’s time I turned the tables on him.
- Make sure you kick a*s and take names tonight! I’ll be watching you!
As you can see, we can say it about ourselves or encourage somebody else to do it. In either case, we say it when we want somebody to succeed to an overwhelming degree.
The phrase is a form of encouragement more than anything else.
“Kicking A*s And Taking Names” – Synonyms
Since the phrase is meant to encourage people to succeed, it might help to know what other synonyms you can use to mean the same thing.
- You’ll smash it
- Get it done
- You’re killing it
- Grab life by the b*lls
- Make them sweat
- Bring it on
- Bring the fire