Friday, May 22, 2015


Ass and Arse

Jerry Useem, "Why It Pays to Be a Jerk," Atlantic (June 2015):
What separates the asshole from the psychopath is that he engages in moral reasoning (he understands that people have rights; his entitlement simply leads him to believe his rights should take precedence). That this reasoning is systematically, and not just occasionally, flawed is what separates him from merely being an ass. (Linguistics backs up the distinction: ass comes from the Latin assinus, for "donkey," while the hole is in the arras, the Hittite word for "buttocks.")
Screen shot:

The Latin word is asinus, not assinus. English arse is cognate with Hittite arra-, arri-, arru-, on which see Jaan Puhvel, Hittite Etymological Dictionary, Vol. I: Words Beginning with A (Berlin: De Gruyter, 1984), p. 122.


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