hair across your ass

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hair across your ass

Post by Archived Topic » Thu Sep 23, 2004 4:05 am

When my mother confronts someone with an attitude problem, she states, "What do you have a hair across your ass about?" or "Your father has a hair across his ass about something." When we confronted her about the expression, she claimed that A) everyone from South Easter Massachusetts uses the expression and B) she meant "Hare" as in a rabbit and "Ass" as in a donkey. Does this expression actually exist, what does it really mean, and is it "hair" or "hare". We always thought that it was "hair" and thus assumed the person had an attitude because of his or her discomfort.
-Brent in MA
Submitted by Brent Clifford (Boston - U.S.A.)

A hair across the ...
Posted on: 27 Sep 2008 07:28

It seems to be known to some, as I've found it in other sources:

She would not be happy, but she wouldn't be all pissed off, either, with a big hair across her ass that'd be there until the snow flew and the Christmas lights went up ...

Bomber's Law, by George V. Higgings, p. 97

I guess it means to harbor rancor, right?


Jerry Smile
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hair across your ass

Post by Archived Reply » Thu Sep 23, 2004 4:20 am

Brent, I couldn’t find the expression in any reliable sources so I was forced to do a Google search. I found 146 usages of “hair across his ass” with some ‘wild hair across his ass’ which suggests to me that it means about the same thing as the old classic ‘wild hair up his ass’ and from the examples I looked at it appeared that was true. There was only one occurrence of ‘hare across his ass’ and it was a spoof on Bunny Phoo Phoo.

So in answer to your question it appears that the expression really does exist and we’re talking HAIR and ASS (as in buttocks) and irritation due to the discomfort – I think your mother was trying to clean things up a bit for you. ‘To have a hair across your ass’ means that your are in a bad mood, irritated, annoyed, pissed, miffed, etc. and ‘to get a hair across your ass’ means that something has happened that has put you in a bad mood, irritated, . . . . you. These are the two main forms that I saw. Some examples are:

"I was just asking a question. No need to get a hair across your ass."

"Have I done something to offend you? I don't understand why you have a hair across your ass when you address me."

"You know, I don't know what your problem is, but you've had a hair across your ass all week."

Ken G – July 19, 2003
Reply from Ken Greenwald (Fort Collins, CO - U.S.A.)
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hair across your ass

Post by Archived Reply » Thu Sep 23, 2004 4:49 am

If there is a horny pookah around it could be Hare.
Reply from ( - )
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Re: A hair across the ...

Post by hsargent » Sat Sep 27, 2008 2:43 pm

This is an example of how much of an effort people seem to go to use vulgar speech. This is very common in the uneducated ( and most comics ) who have several p...., s...., f.... in every sentence for shock value I assume.

This example is one I have never heard and it strains imagery.
Signature: Harry Sargent

Re: A hair across the ...

Post by Tony Farg » Sun Sep 28, 2008 6:15 pm

Well, the idea is graphic.
There have been occasions when the hairs across my ass have become knotted and then one finds that the next time one evacuates the bowel, (straining or not) the effect is quite painful.
And I'm relatively educated.
Sorry HS

Re: A hair across the ...

Post by JerrySmile » Sun Sep 28, 2008 7:32 pm

Yes, that seems to be a good explanation for the inconvenience.

Sorry for the graphical quotation.

Re: A hair across the ...

Post by Erik_Kowal » Sun Sep 28, 2008 9:50 pm

I am much indebted to Tony for the detailed explanation of his experience in this area.
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Re: hair across your ass

Post by Ken Greenwald » Sun Sep 28, 2008 11:26 pm

Jerry, Harry, As unappetizing as this expression may be (and we are, indeed grateful for Tony’s tell-it-like-it-is description) – I think I’ll hold off on my dinner for just a bit – it&is in use (not necessarily at tea parties) and does appear in slang dictionaries.

As I discussed in my posting above, the form I am familiar with is HAVE A (WILD) HAIR UP ONE’S ASS. Also, BUG UP ONE’S ASS is used but may perhaps have a bit more anger associated with (see Chapman entry below) the irritation.


HAVE A HAIR ACROSS ONE’S ASS verb (also) HAVE A HAIR IN ONE’S ASS and HAVE A HAIR UP ONE’S PRAT [1960s and still in use]: To be irritable, to complain. [[as such a condition might make one feel or feel like doing]]


HAVE A HAIR ACROSS (ONE’S) ASS: To be angry or irritable.—usually considered vulgar.


HAVE A HAIR UP ONE’S ASS / HAVE A BUG (or HAIR) UP ONE’S ASS ( or UP ONE’S NOSE) verb phrase by 1940s: To be very irascible and touchy: These little people with bugs up their ass come here to make trouble . . .”—Elmore Leonard / Obviously the chief had a bug up his ass, and this was not the time to start an argument—Michael Grant / Cheatam had a hair up his ass, was the consensus—Earl Thompson / He had some bug up his butt and insisted I come down last night—Sue Grafton
<1968 “HAIR ACROSS YOUR ASS, HAVE A. Constantly complaining and irritable.”—CUSS by Baker, Ladd, & Robb, page 133>

<1971 “Whew, I hope I seen the last of that loonie today. Nothin’ but complaints day and night. The Guy was born with a HAIR ACROSS HIS ASS.”— Moonchildren: A Comic Play in Two Acts by Michael Weller, page 35>

<1979 “You're getting so out of hand, you must have a HAIR ACROSS YOUR ASS!”— Sadeq Hedayat, an Anthology by Hidāyat, Yarshater, Yar-Shater, page 7>

<1981 “What’s eatin’ you Billy? You got a HAIR ACROSS YOUR ASS a mile wide today.”—Unit Pride by McAleer & Dickson, page 69> [[Korean War Experiences]]

<1985 “If anyone was to ask me, I'd swear you had a HAIR ACROSS YOUR ASS, though I'm
wrong occasionally.”—Sweetheart by A. Coburn, page 192>

<1990 “What brought you around lookin’ to make trouble for me? I don't recall I ever
did anythin' agin' you. What put a HAIR ACROSS YOUR ASS concernin’ me?”— Owlhoot Trail by H. P. Jeffers, page 218>

<1993 “Well, listen, Maurice Malo, just because you've got a HAIR ACROSS YOUR ASS doesn't
mean you can shit on me.”—Miss Autobody (play) by Linda Gaboriau of Les Folles Alliees (Theater group), page 45>

<1997 “I saw the blood rise in the back of his neck as he snapped, ‘Dale, you seem to have some kind of HAIR ACROSS YOUR ASS in regard to me. Why is that?’”—Chain of Fools by D. Strachey, page 62>

<2002 “You guys got a HAIR ACROSS YOUR ASS tonight?”—SOS by Ron Peters, page 10>

<2005 “The Auxi [[Somerville Auxilliary Police Department]] was a respected part of the City at one time until a ‘real’ SPD [[Somerville Police Department]] Commander who was once an Auxi got a HAIR ACROSS HIS ASS . . . since that day, there has been conflicts about everything from the color of their uniforms to legally carrying firearms.”—The Somerville News (Maine), 30 December>

<2008 “So what it really is about is the fact the Steelers couldn't beat the Patriots and McNabb choked once again in the Superbowl and he has a HAIR ACROSS HIS ASS about it and is trying to make himself feel better?”—CBS Sports,, 16 May>
Ken – September 28, 2008

Re: hair across your ass

Post by pfl247 » Sun Apr 05, 2009 1:16 am

I believe it is a phrase most used in New England. I've never heard it anywhere else. I was born and raised in Boston and heard it quite often there. I live in Ohio now and have never heard it used here, except by me. My father used the phrase to mean someone who was irritable or had some unexplained axe to grind. He was a highly educated person (Double Harvard) so I think the earlier suggestion that it was a phrase used only by the uneducated is wrong. I think the imagery speaks for itself.

Re: hair across your ass

Post by trolley » Sun Apr 05, 2009 6:04 pm

You could be on to something, pfl247. It was a fairly common saying in my family, who are all from Nova Scotia. The New England States and the Maritime Provinces share a lot of similarities in accents and phrases. I've never heard anyone out west use it.

Re: hair across your ass

Post by Ken Greenwald » Fri Apr 10, 2009 7:51 am

John (a.k.a. trolley) and a.k.a. plf237, I think you guys are on to something. I’ve lived all over the U.S. but not in New England or Canadian Maritime Provinces Maritime, and have never heard the phrase HAIR ACROSS YOUR ASS used.

When I did a search on authors who have used the expression – and there weren’t that many – I did find an unmistakable New England connection. Of those I checked, and who I could find information on, the following were born, raised, lived, taught, or worked, and often placed their novels in Maine, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire:

G. V. Higgins, A Choice of Enemies (1984). Author of crime novels; born in Boston and professor at Boston College.

A. Coburn, Sweetheart (1985), Author of mystery novels; born in New Hampshire, resident of Massachusetts

W. C. Tapply, The Marine Corpse (1986). Author of mystery novels; based in Maine, professor of English at Clark University .

R. Banks, Affliction (1989), Raised in New Hampshire and eastern Massachusetts; “many of his stories are often drawn from his own experiences growing up poor in New England.”

The Dictionary of American Regional English who listed the phrase (see above) did not associate it with a region, which they usually try to do, and I’m sure they will be interested in your observations and my related findings, which I will communicate to them. Thanks for the heads-up.

Ken – April 10, 2009

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