'ASS, n. [L. asinus; Gr. an ear.] 1. A quadruped of the equine genus. This animal has long slouching ears, a short mane, and a tail covered with long hairs at the end. He is usually of an ash color, with a black bar across the shoulders. The tame or domestic ass is patient to stupidity, and carries a heavy burden. He is slow, but very sure footed, and for this reason very useful on rough steep hills. 2. A dull, heavy, stupid fellow; a dolt.
I. nounEtymology: Middle English, from Old English assa, probably from Old Irish asan, from Latin asinusDate: before 12th century 1. any of several hardy gregarious African or Asian perissodactyl mammals (genus Equus) smaller than the horse and having long ears; especially an African mammal (E. asinus) that is the ancestor of the donkey 2.sometimes vulgar a stupid, obstinate, or perverse person <made an ass of himself> — often compounded with a preceding adjective <don't be a smart-ass> II. nounorarseEtymology: Middle English ars, ers, from Old English ærs, ears; akin to Old High German & Old Norse ars buttocks, Greek orrhos buttocks, oura tail Date: before 12th century 1.a.often vulgar buttocks — often used in emphatic reference to a specific person <get your ass over here> <saved my ass> b.often vulgaranus2.usually vulgarsexual intercourseIII. adverbEtymology:2assDate: circa 1920 often vulgar — used as a postpositive intensive especially with words of derogatory implication <fancy-ass>
1. n. & v. --n. 1 a either of two kinds of four-legged long-eared mammal of the horse genus Equus, E. africanus of Africa and E. hemionus of Asia. b (in general use) a donkey. 2 a stupid person. --v.intr. sl. (foll. by about, around) act the fool. Phrases and idioms: asses' bridge = PONS ASINORUM. make an ass of make (a person) look absurd or foolish. Etymology: OE assa thr. OCelt. f. L asinus 2. n. US var. of ARSE.
Ass Ass, n. [OE. asse, AS. assa; akin to Icel. asni, W. asen, asyn, L. asinus, dim. aselus, Gr. ?; also to AS. esol, OHG. esil, G. esel, Goth. asilus, Dan. [ae]sel, Lith. asilas, Bohem. osel, Pol. osiel. The word is prob. of Semitic origin; cf. Heb. ath?n she ass. Cf. Ease.] 1. (Zo["o]l.) A quadruped of the genus Equus (E. asinus), smaller than the horse, and having a peculiarly harsh bray and long ears. The tame or domestic ass is patient, slow, and sure-footed, and has become the type of obstinacy and stupidity. There are several species of wild asses which are swift-footed. 2. A dull, heavy, stupid fellow; a dolt. --Shak. Asses' Bridge. [L. pons asinorum.] The fifth proposition of the first book of Euclid, ``The angles at the base of an isosceles triangle are equal to one another.'' [Sportive] ``A schoolboy, stammering out his Asses' Bridge.'' --F. Harrison. To make an ass of one's self, to do or say something very foolish or absurd.
(asses) 1. An ass is an animal which is related to a horse but which is smaller and has long ears. N-COUNT 2. If you describe someone as an ass, you think that they are silly or do silly things. (INFORMAL) He was generally disliked and regarded as a pompous ass.N-COUNT [disapproval] 3. Your ass is your bottom. (AM INFORMAL, RUDE; in BRIT, use arse, bum) N-COUNT 4. Saying that someone can kiss your ass is a very rude way of expressing anger or disagreement. (AM INFORMAL, RUDE) PHRASE: V inflects [feelings] 5. a pain in the ass: seepain
frequently mentioned throughout Scripture. Of the domesticated species we read of, (1.) The she ass (Heb. 'athon), so named from its slowness (Gen. 12:16; 45:23; Num. 22:23; 1 Sam. 9:3). (2.) The male ass (Heb. hamor), the common working ass of Western Asia, so called from its red colour. Issachar is compared to a strong ass (Gen. 49:14). It was forbidden to yoke together an ass and an ox in the plough (Deut. 22:10). (3.) The ass's colt (Heb. 'air), mentioned Judg. 10:4; 12:14. It is rendered "foal" in Gen. 32:15; 49:11. (Comp. Job 11:12; Isa. 30:6.) The ass is an unclean animal, because it does not chew the cud (Lev. 11:26. Comp. 2 Kings 6:25). Asses constituted a considerable portion of wealth in ancient times (Gen. 12:16; 30:43; 1 Chr. 27:30; Job 1:3; 42:12). They were noted for their spirit and their attachment to their master (Isa. 1:3). They are frequently spoken of as having been ridden upon, as by Abraham (Gen. 22:3), Balaam (Num. 22:21), the disobedient prophet (1 Kings 13:23), the family of Abdon the judge, seventy in number (Judg. 12:14), Zipporah (Ex. 4:20), the Shunammite (1 Sam. 25:30), etc. Zechariah (9:9) predicted our Lord's triumphal entrance into Jerusalem, "riding upon an ass, and upon a colt," etc. (Matt. 21:5, R.V.).
Of wild asses two species are noticed, (1) that called in Hebrew _'arod_, mentioned Job 39:5 and Dan. 5:21, noted for its swiftness; and (2) that called _pe're_, the wild ass of Asia (Job 39:6-8; 6:5; 11:12; Isa. 32:14; Jer. 2:24; 14:6, etc.). The wild ass was distinguished for its fleetness and its extreme shyness. In allusion to his mode of life, Ishmael is likened to a wild ass (Gen. 16:12. Here the word is simply rendered "wild" in the Authorized Version, but in the Revised Version, "wild-ass among men").
as (chamowr or chamor, compare Arabic chamar, apparently connected with Arabic root 'achmar, "red," but referred by some to root hamal, "to carry"; also, but less commonly, both in Hebrew and in Arabic, 'athon, Arabic 'atan, used in Arabic only of the females; pereh, or pere', and `aradh, or `arodh, Arabic 'ard, "wild ass," and also `ayir, Arabic `air, "a young" or "wild ass").
The name `arodh (Job 39:5) is rare; onos (Mt 21:2).
(1) Chamor is derived from the root which means, in all probability, "to carry a burden" (see Furst, Handworterbuch, ch-m-r ii), or "heap up." While no analogies are contained in the Old Testament this root occurs in New Hebrew. The Aramaic chamer, means "to make a ruin-heap" (from which the noun chamor, "a heap," used in Jud 15:16 in a play of words: "With the jawbone of an ass, heaps upon heaps, with the jawbone of an ass have I smitten a thousand men"). The root may also mean "to be red." In this case the nominal form chamor may have been derived from the reddish-brown skin of a certain type of the ass.
(2) 'Athon, Assyrian 'atanu and Aramaic 'atana', is derived from 'atha' "to come," "go," etc. (Furst suggests that it may be derived from 'athan, Aramaic `adhan, "to be slender," "docile," etc.); 'athonoth tsechoroth, "red-white asses" (Jud 5:10) designates a better breed.
(3) `Ayir, Arabic `airu ("male ass") used of the young and vigorous animal, is derived from the root `-y-r, "to go away," "escape through swiftness" (Hommel, Namen der Saugethiere, 121-23). This name is used as a parallel to beni 'athono (Ge 49:11) and as a compound of `ayir pere' (Job 11:12), "a wild ass's colt."
(4) Pere', "wild ass," is derived from the root which means "to run," suggestive of the animal's swiftness. (5) `Arodh, is, in all probability, an Aramaic loan-word for the Hebrew pere'. The Targum uses `arodha' and `aradha'.
From the references to these various names in the Old Testament it is clear that
(1) chamor was used for riding purposes:
(a) by men (2Sa 16:2,23; 19:26; 1Ki 2:40; 13:13,23,24,27);
(b) by women (Ex 4:20; Jos 15:18; Jud 1:14; 1Sa 25:20,23,42; compare 2Ch 28:15). tsemedh chamorim, "a pair of asses" was used for riding as well as for burdens (Jud 19:3,10,19,21, etc.).
(2) It was also used in tillage (Isa 32:20). In this connection the law prohibits the use of an ass in plowing with an ox (De 22:10). The she-ass ('athon) was used as a beast of burden (Ge 45:23) and for riding (Jud 5:10; Nu 22:21,22; 2Ki 4:24). The 'ayir is also referred to as used in riding (Jud 10:4), carrying (Isa 30:6) and tilling (Isa. 30:24).
4. As a Domestic Animal:
Besides the use of the ass in agriculture and riding it was employed in the caravans of commerce, and sent even upon long expeditions through the desert. The ass is and always has been one of the most common domestic animals. It is a much more important animal in Bible lands than in England and America. The humblest peasant owned his own ass. It is associated throughout the Bible with peaceful pursuits (Ge 42:26 f; 22:3; 1Sa 16:20; 2Sa 19:26; Ne 13:15), whereas the horse is referred to in connection with war and armies. Reference is also made to the use of the flesh of the ass in time of famine (2Ki 6:25). The origin of the ass like that of most domestic animals is lost in antiquity and it cannot be confidently stated from what species of wild ass it was derived. There are three races of wild asses in Asia, one of which is found in Syria, but they may all be referred to one species, Equus hemionus. The African species is East asinus, and good authorities consider our domestic asses to have descended from this, and to have been introduced at an early period into the entire Orient. The Sulaib Arabs of the Syrian desert, who have no horses, have a famous breed of swift and hardy gray asses which they assert they cross at intervals with the wild asses of the desert. It is not unlikely that domestic asses like dogs are the result of crosses with more than one wild species.
As a domestic animal it preceded the horse, which was first introduced into Egypt by the Hyksos about 1800 BC. See HORSE.
5. Figurative Uses in the Old Testament:
(1) chamorr garem, "an ass of strong bones," is used metaphorically of Issachar (Ge 49:14); besar chamor, "the genital organ of an ass," is used in contempt (Eze 23:20); qebhurath chamor, "the burial of an ass," is applied to ignominious treatment of a corpse (Jer 22:19); chamor is used as a symbol of peace and humility (2Sa 19:26). Zechariah speaks of the future Messiah as "lowly, and riding upon an ass, even upon a colt the foal of an ass" (Zec 9:9; compare Mt 21:5,7).
(2) Pere' is used as a symbol of wildness (Ho 8:9), and pere' 'adham, `a wild ass of man' (Ge 16:12), referring to Ishmael, designates a free nomad. In Job the name pere' is applied to the desert dwellers (Job 24:5). Jeremiah employs this name as a symbol of lust. He compares Israel's love of idolatry to the lust of the wild ass (Jer 2:24).
6. Wider Use in Literature:
The ass ('athon) figures prominently in the Balaam story (Nu 22; 2Pe 2:16. See Gray, ICC, "Numbers," at the place). It is interesting to note that Apion charged the Jews that they "placed an ass's head in their holy place," affirming that "this was discovered when Antiochus Epiphanes spoiled our temple, and found that ass's head there made of gold, and worth a great deal of money." Josephus, refuting this absurdity, states that the Roman conquerors of Judea found nothing in the temple "but what was agreeable to the strictest piety." He goes on to say: "Apion ought to have had a regard to these facts. .... As for us Jews, we ascribe no honor or power to asses, as do the Egyptians to crocodiles and asps. .... Asses are the same with us which they are with other wise men; namely, creatures that bear the burdens that we lay upon them" (Apion, II, 7).
G. A. Smith, Jerusalem, I, 307 ff; Gesenius' and Furst's Lexicons to the Old Testament; articles in Encyclopedia Biblica and HDB.