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Is this idiom an offshoot of an older idiom? I have heard something that sounds similar to this, but the words were slightly different.

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Possible duplicate: What is the etymology of “…kick ass and take names”? –  Callithumpian Apr 15 '11 at 22:17
    
    
It's related, but that question generated the above statement. People seem to think that it answered that question, so I had to make another question. –  language hacker Apr 15 '11 at 22:56
    
Seems to me it's a variation. On police dealing with dangerous criminals -- or perhaps overzealous police -- there's the expression "shoot first, question the pieces later." –  mfe Apr 16 '11 at 0:14
    
"Kicking ass and taking numbers" is another way of expressing this. You are so awesome at a task that people are lining up to take you on. –  user44641 May 21 '13 at 17:52

3 Answers 3

I believe that the phrase "kicking ass and taking names" also has a military origin. It comes from the act of subduing enemies, and then identifying them. After capture, military forces collect name, rank, and serial number.

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Do you have any references or uses that can be added to your answer? –  MrHen Jun 23 '11 at 16:50

User "UnequivocallyAwesome" at Urban Dictionary claims it is a form of "Kick ass and ask questions later," which in turn is taken from "Shoot first, ask questions later," but UA has only this one entry and it has almost half as many downvotes as upvotes.

I don't think the two phrases (kick ass, take names; shoot first, question later) are related, but it seems the two have often been confused and combined. A search will turn up several different mashups of the two phrases.

See my answer to What is the etymology of “…kick ass and take names”? for earliest uses of that phrase.

Shoot first, ask questions later is an earlier phrase. I found it back to this 1919 US military publication:

http://books.google.com/books?id=9jEcAQAAMAAJ&pg=RA1-PA340&img=1&zoom=3&hl=en&sig=ACfU3U3Ul5DMWLYZsX5j6pLw6WTeUTkArQ&ci=515%2C1182%2C436%2C117&edge=0

Earlier examples of doing X, ask questions later exist however, as well as the general concept of asking questions later while in the heat of battle.

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Based on personal experience, "taking names" derives from the common practice in public schools in the United States of a teacher appointing a student to be classroom monitor when he or she had to absent herself temporarily from the classroom. Often the student monitor would be perched on a stool at the front of the classroom, and would write on the blackboard the name of any misbehaving student.

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What does that have to do with "kicking ass?" –  emodendroket Oct 21 at 15:40

protected by RegDwigнt May 21 '13 at 22:11

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