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I would like to know more about the purpose of word "collective" in following sentence:

We're about to get our collective ass kicked.

Did the speaker used the word "collective" here just as a means to emphasise her point?

Is that use of word "collective" a regionalism?

Thanks!

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3 Answers 3

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In principle, "our collective ass" means the (necessarily figurative) ass of the group as a whole, as opposed to the (literal or figurative) asses of the individual members of the group. In practice, however, I don't think the sentence would really be taken any differently if "our collective ass" were replaced with "our asses". I think "our collective ass" was mostly chosen for the humorous image of a shared ass. (The word "collective" is essential for conveying this image; just "our ass" would be confusing at best.)

Is that use of word "collective" a regionalism?

The word itself certainly isn't, and I'm sure that English speakers from many different regions would get both the meaning and the humor; but it's possible that this bit of stock humor is more common in some regions than others. It's certainly colloquial, though; a bit slangy, even.

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Collective refers to all of the members of the group. It means that it won’t just be me getting my ass kicked, but you and everyone else in our group too.

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  • Isn't the word "our" enough to refer to "we all", "all members in the group"? That's why I asked whether "collective" is used for emphasis. Jan 9, 2019 at 6:53
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    You could say “our asses”, that’s true. I guess in a way saying “our collective ass” emphasizes that the group members are all in the situation together. Jan 9, 2019 at 6:54
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Ass, when used figuratively, is treated as a noncountable noun so it in not pluralized as in the following idiomatic expesssion:

cover one's ass slang chiefly US and Canadian to take such action as one considers necessary to avoid censure, ridicule, etc at a later time

From Murdered Innocents Corey Mitchell - 2009 - ‎

They're trying to cover their ass.” “Okay,” Scott replied. “Why do you think they're covering their ass?” Hardesty questioned. “Somebody did something they weren't supposed to, or seen it.” “How do you think they're covering their ass?”

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