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I want to say something like, "We have to be careful not to get our heads too far up our own asses."

The phrase has the following meaning, according to Wiktionary: To be oblivious to the real state of things, from either stupidity or stubbornness.

I want the rudeness and directness of the phrase, just not the vulgar word "ass" in there. "oblivious" fits well enough, but it's not rude enough or 'abrupt' as the idiom.

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    Just replace "head" with "cranium" and "ass" with "anal sphincter," and Bob's your uncle! Commented Oct 11, 2017 at 4:17
  • "...too full of ourselves."
    – Dan
    Commented Oct 11, 2017 at 9:43
  • Head up one's arse seems a tiny less vulgar to this American English speaker. Commented Oct 11, 2017 at 12:42
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    ah, the old medical condition of cranial rectal uppitis
    – Skooba
    Commented Oct 12, 2017 at 13:18
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    We need to be sure we avoid suffering a cranio-rectal inversion.
    – Hellion
    Commented Oct 13, 2017 at 16:54

3 Answers 3

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I appreciate your deference to politeness in communication. Vulgarity communicates only itself.

You could end the phrase with a surprise that would tell the same story and carry the same punch. "We have to be careful not to get our heads too far up our own egos."

Synonyms of ego or such ideas will do just as well. One does well to remember there are more horse's asses in the world than horses.

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  • This is good. I can put a pause right before the word "ego", so that anyone familiar with the phrase will expect the cuss and then be surprised as you say. But there will be all the negative connotations associated with "ego" and "ass", which will give exactly the impressions I'm intended which actually adds to meaning more than simple substitution. This is better than good, it's great. It would be perfect if "ego" or synonym was more harsh sounding. Also, I can substitute other words besides ego that may be less accurate but more situation appropriate.
    – r12
    Commented Oct 12, 2017 at 17:03
  • Thank you. Your pause is right where I would have put it for just those reasons.
    – Elliot
    Commented Oct 31, 2017 at 4:08
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We have to make sure we don't get too up ourselves.

Be up yourself

(UK slang)​ To think that you are better and more important than other people:
She's so up herself since she landed this new job, it's unbearable.


Same meaning, no rude words :)

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  • Thanks for providing the British slang. As an American English speaker, I'd like to encounter more. Commented Oct 11, 2017 at 12:41
  • Being "up oneself" is a v good way of saying it. Rude, but not so rude.
    – Mark E K
    Commented Oct 14, 2017 at 12:34
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Not sure if it's rude enough, but you could say, "we want to make sure we aren't [thinking/living/working] in a bubble."

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