Quantifying something that is not measurable for dramatic effect.

As in: "Im going to open up a can of whup-ass on you" "4 tons of american pride" "I give zero fucks your problem"

I cant think of many other diverse examples, but I am sure there are more.

What is the name of this rhetorical device? Does it exist formally?

2 Answers 2


euphemism--In military jargon a 'can of whup ass' is a grenade or other hand held explosive device which is thrown at the enemy. It's a euphemism for a lethal device meant to kill another human being.

  • I think OP was not expecting this particular answer, but you are most certainly correct for the first example. I'm not sure euphemism fits for some of the other examples though. +1 anyway.
    – Jim
    Oct 16, 2014 at 3:43
  • Yeah, Ive never heard the term can of whup ass used to reffer to a grenade launcher, but I suppose the above answer is correct, but it is not what I am looking for.
    – zvory
    Oct 16, 2014 at 18:43

I think the specific rhetorical device is a "metaphor." As for the derivation of the phrase "can of whupass," the idea of delivering an overpowering defeat to someone is the implication in "whipping their ass." If you are the one so defeated, you had "an ass whipping," or "an ass whuppin'." One might argue a "single serving" of an "ass whuppin" might be bad enough, but to have an entire can of it opened up especially for you is hyperbole. I believe user3847 is correct, however, about the grenade. In WWII, soldiers would sometimes refer to a grenade as a "can," or a "can of whupass," with the obvious implication that anyone nearby when the "can" was opened (detonated) was about to have a spectacularly--possibly a suddenly abbreviated--day, due to the extreme amount of "ass whuppin" so delivered.

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