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Badass and BAMF are both modern words with approximately the same meaning: "Someone who is awesome to an extreme level, thereby leveraging unquestionable authority." Is there another noun or title that would convey the same level of awe, admiration and toughness that calling someone a badass does, without the vulgarity?

Thanks for any help. :)

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closed as too broad by MετάEd, Andrew Leach, tchrist, choster, FumbleFingers Jun 28 '13 at 14:48

There are either too many possible answers, or good answers would be too long for this format. Please add details to narrow the answer set or to isolate an issue that can be answered in a few paragraphs.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

    
I'm not sure that the Urban Dictionary (your definition is number 5 on their list: urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=badass ) should be regarded as a definitive source, even for slang. I would normally regard those at dictionary.reference.com/browse/badass?s=t as closer to the general meaning of the word. Are you looking for synonyms to the former (ie. the specific meaning you cited) or the latter (ie. BA/BAMF's meaning in general usage)? –  Mark Bannister Jun 25 '13 at 8:20
    
It depends on 1. What element of badass-ery you're trying to emphasize 2. How polite you're trying to be and (as always) 3. Context. Can you give some more specifics? –  batpigandme Jun 25 '13 at 9:32
    
Borrowing from one of the answers below, "an ass to be reckoned with". –  Kaiser Octavius Jun 25 '13 at 13:09
    
Jokes aside, I can't think of a word or expression in polite language that captures the essence of "badass". –  Kaiser Octavius Jun 25 '13 at 14:26
    
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6 Answers

The slang term "badass", like many vulgar terms, can have a broad range of meanings, which makes it difficult to find a synonym without a clear context. As such, I can only suggest vague expressions to approximate its effect.

  • to be reckoned with
  • not to be underestimated/taken lightly/trifled with

Examples

Here are some examples of how you would substitute these.

That man's got such a badass beard!

becomes:

That man has a beard to be reckoned with!

And:

My boss is such a badass.

becomes:

My boss is not to be trifled with.

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An alternative to referring to someone as badass, a bad bitch, or a righteous mother****er, could be to describe them as being a formidable figure, or a striking character, affirmatively exuding an air of puissance.

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"Master", "doyenne", "savant", "wizard", "a ??? of the highest caliber"...

Specific contexts have their own words, such as in music, you could use "virtuoso".

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This dude is a virtuoso (at linguistics).

You, good sir, are a vituoso.

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Badass is slang, so it's going to depend on where you are and who you are talking to.

It's simply cultural.

For example if you said to my grandfather that he was a badass, he would be quite upset because in he doesn't use 'bad' words to describe good things. He wouldn't think you mean he is literally a bad ass, but he would think you mean he is not a nice person.

For example 'wicked' 'bad' 'sick' etc in slang means really good. This is unfortunately due to the culture we live in glorifying violence, poverty, crime, rudeness and many other negative things.

A kid nowadays will describe a new flavour of ice cream as 'badass'

I think you misunderstand peoples meaning if you think when they call someone 'badass' they mean "Someone who is awesome to an extreme level, thereby leveraging unquestionable authority."

Bear in mind the term 'badass' could go out of fashion at anytime changing the meaning.

Sorry but I needed to make sure you understood that before I gave this answer, which is technically correct but in other ways oh so wrong!

I am sure by polite you mean without using any profanity or 'swearwords' you can use 'mean' but again many people will misunderstand you.

Example:

"Mike Tyson is one badass mother" "Mike Tyson is one mean mother"

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While I am no expert, I can think of a few substitutions.

Boss (I use this word a lot):

Man, that guy's a badass!
Man, that guy's a boss!

Epic guy/gal/man/woman/etc. (Though I find epic overused):

He is a badass!
He is an epic fella!

Kingly figure:

The badass strove towards the sun, away from the explosion.
The kingly figure strove towards the sun, away from the explosion.

Sadly, though, I do not believe queenly figure would work for the opposite gender. It does not seem to carry the same mental heftiness as the term badass: it has a more soothing connotation, at least to me.

I want to add a bit more, as a result of a meta conversation I just had.

Kingly figure may not be a perfect fit for you, depending on the usage you are going for. I thought it would fit well since you mentioned authority in your definition of badass, which a king certainly has. If you are focusing more on someone who is an "on the edge" kind of person, though, then you probably want one of the other two suggestions in my answer.

For added reference, here is the definition of kingly I referenced, from the free dictionary. I hooked mainly onto the idea of being majestic and regal as leading to a naturally authoritative presence.

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