In New York Times’ (November 7) article under the title, “Poppy Bush finally gives junior a spanking,” Maureen Dowd introduced the following statement of Jon Meacham’s new biography, “Destiny and Power: The American Odyssey of George Herbert Walker Bush.
”While G.W. Bush used to say that what he liked about Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld was their brass appendages, Poppy offered a dimmer anatomical appraisal, calling each an “iron-ass.”
I’ve never heard the word, “iron-ass.” I don’t find this word in neither Oxford nor Cambridge online English dictionary.
Google Ngram shows that the word emerged around 1915 and continues intermittent usage at a nominal level of 0.000000045 in 2000 in contrast to “iron butt,” of which incidence rate is a digit higher (0.000000376).
Incidentally, Urban dictionary defines “iron butt” as a nickname for a long-distance motorcyclist. It often specifically applies to someone who has motorcycled 1000 miles in a 24-hour period.
What does “iron-ass” mean? Does it mean wrongheaded or ironhanded? Is this popular word, though Google Ngram indicates otherwise?