You half-assed getting the phone back! (He supposed to get the phone back but he got caught in the middle of getting the phone. So his captain rebuke him.)

Is "half-assed" used as a verb here?

  • It is used as: to do something in a half-assed way and sounds really horrible.
    – Lambie
    Jul 11, 2019 at 18:34

2 Answers 2


Yes, "half-assed" is usually an adjective, but here it is being used as a verb.

The meaning is "You did a half-assed job of getting the phone back" or, less colloquially, "You approached the task of getting the phone back with insufficient diligence and/or competence."

Though somewhat unusual, this usage is common enough to have been used on this tank top and in this headline.

Though you're probably already aware of this, it may be worth mentioning that "half-assed," as an adjective or a verb, is widely seen as vulgar.

  • 1
    For some reason, "half-assed it" as in both your linked examples seems like the more common usage. Or (more generally) "half-assed <noun phrase>" like "I half-assed my homework assignment."
    – Mixolydian
    Jul 11, 2019 at 18:37
  • @Mixolydian, sorry, but I don't really understand you. "Half-assed" is usually used as an adjective; in the sentence the OP asked about and in both the examples I linked to, it is used as a verb.
    – Nanigashi
    Jul 11, 2019 at 18:44
  • 1
    yep I agree with you that it's usually used as an adjective. Sorry if my comment wasn't clear. I meant that when it is used as a verb, it's not usually followed by a gerund (e.g. "getting the phone back") but rather a noun phrase like it or something that's not a form of a verb (and yes, I do realize that a gerund does act as a noun).
    – Mixolydian
    Jul 11, 2019 at 19:00
  • @Mixolydian I understand your point. Yes I suppose that usage is far more common than the one using "gerund" like the sentence I quoted. But it was a sitcom so it is normal to hear some unusual phrases. Jul 11, 2019 at 20:20
  • 1
    @Mixolydian I agree that the example sentence is not a good example of half-assed being used explicitly as a verb. Despite the fact that it would become ungrammatical if half-assed were removed, leaving just getting, I could still argue that half-assed has an almost adverbial quality to it. To be clear, the example sentence should just be you half-assed the phone back if it's to be understood in only a verbal fashion. Jul 12, 2019 at 14:36

This is not a common usage. But using nouns as verbs, (verbing nouns) particularly in informal speech, is generally common. Certainly the meaning here is clear and would be understood by any fluent speaker.

  • To a learner, Mr. Google always provides a link, this one for example.
    – Victor B.
    Jul 11, 2019 at 18:36
  • @Rompey That link is entirely about the use of "half-assed" as an adjective, or in one case as a noun, which the OP clearly already knew about. Thus it provides no additional value.
    – David Siegel
    Jul 11, 2019 at 18:46
  • Well, this one (2) is about the verb. Anyway, a perfectly googlable question...
    – Victor B.
    Jul 12, 2019 at 8:45

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