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. :)

  • 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)?
    – user11752
    Jun 25, 2013 at 8:20
  • 1
    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? Jun 25, 2013 at 9:32
  • Borrowing from one of the answers below, "an ass to be reckoned with". Jun 25, 2013 at 13:09
  • Jokes aside, I can't think of a word or expression in polite language that captures the essence of "badass". Jun 25, 2013 at 14:26

6 Answers 6


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


Here are some examples of how you would substitute these.

That man's got such a badass beard!


That man has a beard to be reckoned with!


My boss is such a badass.


My boss is not to be trifled with.


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

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


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.


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.


This dude is a virtuoso (at linguistics).

You, good sir, are a vituoso.


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.


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

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