I know the phrase "laugh my ass off", meaning "laugh at it a lot".

I checked with two American friends. One said "ass off" could apply to other verbs, but he didn't give me any examples indeed. Well, the other guy said "No, ass off only worked in the phrase laugh my ass off".

Question: Is "ass off" a common set which could apply to most of verbs in English? Or merely in laugh my ass off? In another word, can I say "I tried my ass off" or "I worked my ass off"?

  • 1
    "I worked my ass off" but not "I tried my ass off". – Weather Vane Nov 22 '17 at 8:57

The Corpus of Contemporary American English contains:

  • laugh my ass off
  • work my ass off
  • freeze my ass off
  • slave my ass off
  • exercise my ass off
  • act my ass off
  • perform my ass off
  • lie my ass off
  • write my ass off
  • dance my ass off
  • perjure my ass off
  • sing my ass off
  • sweat my ass off
  • pray my ass off
  • run my ass off
  • sweat my arse off

The British National Corpus contains one instance each of:

  • work my arse off
  • work my ass off
  • freeze my ass off

Each corpus also contains a couple of instances where "my ass" means "me", e.g. "[they] bored my arse off" (they bored me) or "[they] sued my ass off", but this is a slightly different usage from what you're asking about.

  • Can I change the possessive pronoun in those phrases? For example, can I say 'work your ass off', 'sing his ass off', 'perform their ass off', and etc.? – dan Nov 22 '17 at 10:04
  • Yes, you can. You can say "you work/sing/perform your ass off". (You could also say "I work your ass off" (= I make you work hard), but this would be more akin to the transitive use of "work" with "your ass" serving as a direct object equivalent to "you". You couldn't say "I sing your ass off" - that would be nonsensical.) Similarly you can say "we performed our asses off", "she sang her ass off", etc. – rjpond Nov 22 '17 at 20:06

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