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A woman's butt was allegedly touched by a man several times during a commute on the MRT.

How to use butt, bottom, buttock and ass? I am confusing with these words.

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In AmE:

butt - The typical word used (except in formal company).

bottom - What immediately comes to mind with "bottom" is a parent-child relationship. For example, a mother would say this about her child - "If you don't stop I'm going to smack your bottom." Someone else may say this to an intimate partner trying to be coy, shy, or "cute." Definitely informal.

buttock - It's buttocks, and it's not heard a lot outside of a reference to the Forrest Gump movie or possibly a medical context. This would probably be most appropriate in a formal situation. (EDIT: Briefly looking at searches it seems this was originally a diminutive form of butt - so my initial supposition that this is a full form of "butt" is not correct.)

ass - Vulgar, don't use in polite or unknown company.

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  • 4
    -1 butt is informal and not used in formal (and perhaps not polite) contexts; your example sentence for bottom does not necessarily coincide with any of the adjectives you use for the word; buttocks is often used. And if you aren't going to take the trouble to find out if buttock is the origin of butt, don't bother to answer. Guesses don't do the OP any good. – user6951 Nov 10 '14 at 15:14
  • Also (until recently) quite strongly marked as foreign (US) in British English. "Ass" is the American English for British English "Arse". – Francis Davey Nov 10 '14 at 22:35
  • @CarSmack: You're right. I edited. – LawrenceC Nov 11 '14 at 0:28
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    There are other words besides these four that could be used, too, like rear end (or even just rear) and behind. The behind option might be a good alternative if the O.P. is looking for something not too formal but not too vulgar, either. – J.R. Nov 11 '14 at 0:35
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    did not -1 but would strongly caution against using "butt" with strangers -- it is a little crass. "rear end" is better. – hunter Nov 11 '14 at 0:47
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butt is far more common in AmE than in BrE, though has become more common since the 1980s: See this Ngram. We Brits prefer 'backside.

bottom is a fairly innocuous word.

buttock - this is one half of your backside. We use it commonly if we are talking to the doctor about a problem we have in one. It's also commonly used in the plural in (semi-)formal language The punishment is usually administered either across the buttocks or on the hands (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/School_corporal_punishment.

An ass is a donkey in BrE. A cruder word for backside is arse, the BrE equivalent of AmE ass.

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  • +1 Would like to add that 'ass' in AmE is the equivalent of arse in BrE. – michelle Nov 10 '14 at 15:28
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    @michelle: done – tunny Nov 10 '14 at 15:30
  • +1 for making the US/British English distinctions. Buttock appears to be understood on both sides of the Atlantic, albeit that it is only one half. – Francis Davey Nov 10 '14 at 22:36
  • I would add that the latter is not just cruder, but is usually considered vulgar/offensive, at least in the U.S. Also, 'backside' is used in the U.S., too, and is considered pretty much equivalent to 'backside' here. – reirab Nov 10 '14 at 23:41

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