Inspired by What is this idiom?, but that question doesn't actually ask for where the expression originated. I Googled around, but couldn't find any reliable source. Surely the expression originates in a major or cult movie or literary work of some kind or another?
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Edit: Sorry. I spoke too soon. Here's a citation from five years earlier from The Green Berets by Robin Moore (1965):
It appears ass kicking itself dates back to the early '40s and the phrase having as much chance as a one-legged man in a mule/butt/ass-kicking contest. The similar expression kick in the pants dates to the late 1800s.
I just antedated the 1965 reference by 11 years. This is from John Oliver Killens' 1954 novel Youngblood:
This is a military term, specifically Navy, and the exact unit is the Navy military police, or Shore Patrol.
Origin was based on shore-leave: it is the job of the SP to patrol and manage crimes and other behavioral problems of Naval personnel, preferably before they happen-- but to deal with them effectively when they do happen.
After a fight, the SP will sequester the "ringleaders" and confiscate their ID cards long enough to make official note of who they are.
protected by Will Hunting Nov 11 '12 at 5:09
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