So, you have a web site to which you've posted a review stating "How to Kick Ass". This gets censored, which I can understand.

What's a very colloquial, not necessarily modern slang, easily recognizable equivalent to kick ass?

This review is in a military context. The metric is, would it be inspiring for a graduation speech at West Point but also easily recognizable to a civilian? If it's a bit… colorful, then all the better. But it should be able to pass profanity filters.

Clarification of the context.

It's about a German WWII armored tactics history/handbook. My original review title was going to be 'Kick Butt 103' - I wanted to convey the sense that it was an impressive course to instill advanced organizational wisdom and experience, in this case on how to dominate your enemy. Besides the title, my review goes into more details about how it is very much a 'how to' combat manual. But I did want the title to be somewhat clear on its own.

Amazon wasn't keen on 'butt' however - which I thought a bit over the top. Butt is colloquial, and colorful, but hardly obscene or profane.

'Kick Ass 103' would work as well. But 'Trounce 103' or 'Dominate 103', to take two good suggestions below, would, in my opinion, leave a reader rather puzzled as to what I was trying to say - about the only thing those two evoke are edgy website user names. Pown 103 might work, but that is gamer slang and might be too obscure to older readers.

  • 1
    Doesn't saying something kicks butt means it's good?
    – RexYuan
    Jul 3, 2015 at 7:22
  • 2
    @RexYuan - from the "butt-kicker's" perspective? Certainly!
    – user98990
    Jul 3, 2015 at 8:02
  • 5
    "butt" is offensive language? If "butt" is offensive, surely "behind", "rear", "rump", "posterior" would be "offensive" too?
    – Stumbler
    Jul 3, 2015 at 10:23
  • 3
    Yeah, I always thought "kick butt" was the (relatively) polite, non-profane equivalent.
    – David Z
    Jul 3, 2015 at 12:06
  • 5
    There are no profanity filters here on SE (except that we bowdlerise profanities in titles): we encourage calling a spade a spade. I’ve un-bowdlerised your question and also made some minor edits to make it more readable—though I still don’t quite understand what you mean by “the metric is, would it be…”. I’m also not sure if you’re talking about kicking ass in the sense of defeating someone (“I kicked his ass!”) or just in the sense of being generally awesome (“This PS3 kicks ass!”). You should clarify that, because the two make for very different answers. Jul 3, 2015 at 14:56

10 Answers 10


To "kick butt" is to "Dominate" or to "Rule!"

Dominate verb: have a commanding influence on; exercise control over. "the company dominates the market for operating system software"

synonyms: control, influence, exercise control over, command, be in command of, be in charge of, rule, govern, direct, have ascendancy over, have mastery over.


Rule verb: to control or direct; exercise dominating power, authority, or influence over; govern: "to rule the empire with severity"


Rule verb: to dominate; to be the best. (Slang only in certain contexts. Typical in graffiti.) "Pizza rules around here"

Rule the Roost informal To be in charge; dominate: "In this house my parents rule the roost"

(The Free Dictionary)

  • 1
    I am going to go with 'Advanced Domination 103'. Close enough and evokes a university course even more so than my original title. Jul 3, 2015 at 19:44
  • Thank you I. Philosopher, glad I could be of assistance.
    – user98990
    Jul 3, 2015 at 20:08
  • @ItalianPhilosopher- Just be prepared to handle the people who show up with something entirely different in mind ;-)
    – Jim
    Jul 4, 2015 at 3:24
  • I looked on Google but could not find what 103 means. I know 101 is AmEng for something that starts from scratch, a beginner's guide if you will, most often a school course, but 103 is what? The third year? Beta? sub-Microsoft? Help?!
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jul 4, 2015 at 6:45
  • 1
    errr, yes. 103 means advanced, as opposed to 101 basic. many university courses have some variation on a numbering scheme starting at 101. Or 1-2-3 also. Jul 9, 2015 at 5:29

I suggest Trounce as meaning the same thing


defeat heavily in a contest.
"Essex trounced Cambridgeshire 5–1 in the final"
synonyms: defeat utterly, beat hollow, win a resounding victory over, annihilate, drub, rout, give someone a drubbing, crush, overwhelm, bring someone to their knees;

rebuke or punish severely.
"insider dealing has been roundly trounced"
synonyms: thrash, beat, whip, flog, lash, birch, cane, leather, spank, chastise, lambaste;


  • "Trounce" is great, but I'd steer well clear of "lash", "birch", "leather" and especially "spank", all of which sound very old and British to my ear, and/or lend themselves to interpretations that are... probably more lascivious than what you're going for. Also I often hear "X gave Y a drubbing", but I don't think I've ever heard "X drubbed Y". Jul 3, 2015 at 14:16
  • @j_random_hacker Indeed. "How to Spank" would probably attract the wrong sort of audience. "How to Trounce" is less punchy than "How to Dominate" in my opinion but mainly for the ring of it. I just give it as another option that perhaps fulfills the 'a bit, colorful, all the better' secondary objective a bit better. That said, "How to Dominate" could attract the wrong sort of audience too ;)
    – Avon
    Jul 3, 2015 at 14:23
  • 1
    @j_random_hacker - If you were a sports fan in the U.S., you'd hear this verb often. I found a quite a few samples in a Google search: John Madden's 1976 Oakland Raiders drubbed the Minnesota Vikings 32-14 in Super Bowl XI to complete a 16-1 season; the Red Sox drubbed the White Sox 10-2 before one of Fenway's largest crowds of the year; The St. Louis Blues clinched a playoff spot Thursday when they drubbed the Calgary Flames; Old Dominion drubbed the Cavaliers at Davenport Field to the tune of a 14-5 blowout; the Seattle Seahawks drubbed the Denver Broncos, 43-8.
    – J.R.
    Jul 3, 2015 at 23:26
  • (That said, I completely agree with your advice to steer clear of "birch" and "spank". I think "thrash" seems okay, but I wouldn't use "chastise" in this context, either.)
    – J.R.
    Jul 3, 2015 at 23:29
  • I am a non native speaker with a fairly wide vocabulary, but I wouldn't have understood it. Something to consider if the audience is international. This said, I should start using this word!
    – Davidmh
    Jul 4, 2015 at 15:50

If it's addressed to an audience which can understand baseball metaphors, you can use "hit it out of the park".


take them to the cleaners 103

It has the same very colloquial feel as kick ass, and generally means the same thing but very safe. It may not be racey enough!


To cream:

"... defeat (a person or team) easily and completely"


  • Please include a source attribution for your link and direct quotation.
    – user98990
    Jul 4, 2015 at 13:29
  • The link isn't it's own source?? Jul 5, 2015 at 4:59
  • 1
    Hey there, Lamar. If the hypertext link becomes obsolete or suffers link-rot, then "cream" will lead nowhere. Additionally, direct quotations - as in the block-quote - require a source citation, in this case Merriam-Webster. You could kill two birds with one stone, by making the source citation your hypertext link, rather than your suggested term (cream). Hope that is helpful.
    – user98990
    Jul 5, 2015 at 5:11
  • Makes sense - good tips :) edit>> is my edit adequate, or is there a preferred format? Jul 5, 2015 at 5:14
  • +1 Lamar - generally speaking, the more complete and self-sufficient your answer is, the more you regularly include incisive documentation drawn from established authority, examples of usage, links and source citations, the more positively your answer will be received and the more positive votes you will garner - all of which translates into rep points, which opens up features of the site not currently available to you at your rep level. Something to shoot for. Enjoy the site, and good night. :-)
    – user98990
    Jul 5, 2015 at 5:23

For a military context I'd suggest "win", "winning", or 'victory".

  • How to win
  • Victory 103

And/or many military units have mottos which presumably include some suitable words.


If you need something close to "kick ass", but still slangy, a modern equivalent would be "pwn", pronounced like "own" with a "p" in front of it. Variants include "pwnage" "uber pwnage", "totally pwned", etc. You can find more uses by googling "pwn", or by playing a video game with a preteen.

In case you were wondering, "pwn" basically means "own", as in "I own you"; it boils down to saying you're much better than the other person.

An alternative, if your audience is a bit more clever, might be "We're all out of bubble gum". This comes from the movie "They Live", in which one character says "I came here to do two things: kick ass and chew bubble gum. And I'm all out of bubble gum."

Less imaginatively, you could just switch "ass" with "tail", or spell "ass" as "@$$".

  • Sorry, -1 for promoting a typo ("pwn"). One can use the correct spelling, without changing the meaning.
    – Trang Oul
    Feb 17, 2016 at 10:58

If you're looking for words/phrases that evoke a "let's go start a bar fight" type feeling, then the phrases kicking ass and cracking skulls are basically synonymous. Cracking skulls may technically be less profane, but it does have a harsher tone to it; though that may suit your needs for the word just fine (example below)

"Here is your textbook cadets, Zie-Lengthy-Original-German-Titled-Armor-Tactics-Manual, or as you will lovingly come to refer to it Skull Cracking 101."


I would suggest beat as a non-profane, easy-to-understand, single-word alternative for your context.

There is also the phrasal verb beat up but it is used in literal sense mainly and things get physical. The video game genre beat 'em up comes from there also.

beat: Defeat (someone) in a game, competition, election, or commercial venture OD

beat up: (transitive) To give a severe beating to. Wiktionary

Also, the definition of kick ass in Wiktionary agrees with me:

(idiomatic, US, Canada, colloquial) To beat someone in a competition, fight, or other situation.

From The Concise New Partridge Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English edited by Tom Dalzell, Terry Victor:

kick ass: 1 to be especially energetic and exciting; to succeed by your vigorous efforts. "Kick arse" and "kick butt" are common variations. US, 1979. 2 to use force, to beat up US, 1962.

As you can see, beat is closer to the first sense but beat up is closer to the second sense.

  • If "ass" and "butt" are unacceptable, the sexual slang meanings of "beat up" would probably also be unacceptable on the OP's site. If you are writing about German strategy, why not use a German term like "blitzkrieg"? I think that would be understood widely enough in British English, at least.
    – alephzero
    Jul 3, 2015 at 19:53
  • @alephzero: The problem is using the words "ass" and "butt", not "kick". Beat or beat up doesn't include profanity. There can be slang definitions of many polite words.
    – ermanen
    Jul 3, 2015 at 20:15
  • To "beat up" doesn't mean to win (i.e. beat an opponent), and it is not used in a "stronger sense" than beat. To beat someone up, means to use physical violence, to physically hurt a person; it is not used as a euphemism or metaphor.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jul 4, 2015 at 6:37
  • I concur with @Mari-Lou assessment of "beat" and "beat up", on the other hand ermanen, "beat-down" is used figuratively, at least in the U.S., for delivering a rather "decisive defeat."
    – user98990
    Jul 4, 2015 at 13:24
  • @Mari-LouA: I improved my answer a bit. I thought OP was trying to combine both senses of kick ass. You are right that beat up is not figurative when used with indefinite pronouns.
    – ermanen
    Jul 4, 2015 at 13:55

To kick a** is to "wreck shop."

To my judgment, the best example of the latter term comes from the song "Mama Said Knock You Out," by LL Cool J:

Explosion, overpowerin'

Over the competition, I'm towerin'

Wreckin' shop, when I drop

These lyrics that'll make you call the cops

  • 2
    It is unhelpful to define one slang term solely with another slang term. In any case "wreck shop" is inapt for the usage "This barbecue sauce is kick ass!"
    – deadrat
    Jul 3, 2015 at 21:59
  • 1
    @deadrat the OP has asked for slang equivalent to "kick a**," used as a verb. i have answered the OP's question.
    – abcd
    Jul 3, 2015 at 22:49
  • Please edit your answer to give a full explanation of how it would fit. Jul 13, 2015 at 8:18

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