arsed (or assed) » asked

Chiefly in:   can't be asked , half-asked

Classification: English – idiom-related – /r/-dropping

Spotted in the wild:

  • Me and Ali were debating and I was coming up with a complex system to form a utopia but it got REAL complex after a while, but it basically involved a super computer and everyone owning an equal sized patch of land and resources which they could share with others IF they wanted to if they agreed with each other on opinions to form like minded countries. There was a whole lot more to it but I can’t be asked to type it. (link)
  • Its finally half term(praise the lord!) and no doubt i’m gonna be sleeping,eating and…er sleeping all week. I need to do sociology cs/wk…but shit..i can’t be asked to do it…*poof*.. (link)
  • To me, a munchkin is someone who cannot be bothered to develop a personality for his or her character regardless of anything that is going on in the campaign. That’s what my 8 points were about. It’s the player who simply can’t be asked to role play in any way shape or form. That’s what makes munchkins so much not fun to play with. (link)
  • Children watch MTV, dress all scantily, think the people on Girls Gone Wild RULE, and do all kinds of provocative stuff at a younger age than I ever did. […] Gay marriage is just one of those things becoming more accepted by younger people, and frankly, the parents are frightened. Parents can’t be asked to raise thier kids! So of course, they want the BIG GOVERNMENT to do it for them, through laws! (link)
  • You either do it right and get meaningful data, or you do it half-asked and end up with meaningful sounding numbers that are devoid of anything substantial. (, blog comment, Jan 3, 2006)
  • A half-asked effort produces half-asked results. (Bodybuilding forum, February 12, 2002)

Analyzed or reported by:

On our Contribute! page, Simon reports this reshaping of a slang expression that, according to him, “has become common in England and Wales over the last ten years”. Indeed, he notes that _can’t be asked_ and _can’t be arsed_ sound nearly if not totally the same in some English accents.

A Google search suggests that the idiom _I can’t be arsed [doing/to do…]_ is still essentially British: 69,700 GHits with the spelling _arsed_ vs. only 3,880 that employ the American English equivalent _assed_.

However, an informal survey among a small number of American English speakers hinted at this idiom enjoying a growing popularity in the US while retaining the British English spelling _arsed_, “to express a quaint Englishness”, as one person put it.

That the form _can’t be asked_ is indeed an eggcorn, and not merely the result of deliberately weakening a taboo term, was confirmed to me by Jeannie Cool, who, citing the authority of a friend of hers, expressed the opinion that _can’t be asked_ was the original, “correct” term (and should therefore be the one employed in writing) whereas _arsed_ was what she saw as a slang corruption.

Several of the above examples were selected because they occur on web pages that contain other taboo words a short distance from the quoted passage and are therefore unlikely to have been used in order to avoid writing _arsed_.

_My thanks to the members of the `#suwcharman` and `#wordpress` IRC channels on `freenode` for reports on their usage._

[Update C.W., May 21, 2006: Added Ken Lakritz’s _half-asked_, with cites. The addition makes this something of a hybrid eggcorn. The idiom _can’t be arsed_ is clearly British, whereas _half-assed/arsed_ appears across English varieties. The spelling of the latter doesn’t seem to follow a clear-cut distribution. The Guardian Unlimited site, for example, contains, according to Google, 117 occurrences of _half-arsed_, but also 77 of _half-assed_.]

| link | entered by Chris Waigl, 2005/07/10 |

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