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A commendation delivered to an individual who has done well can come in many forms. One of the fancy descriptions of excellence is included in the subject line of this question. However, in the quest to use this phrase appropriately, how should it be applied?

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  • It would be helpful if you could give a link showing usage, because otherwise you either require someone who knows the answer to go look for a quote, or you will leave readers in the dark who are not familiar with the idiom.
    – vectory
    Commented Jan 16, 2019 at 0:07
  • What I generally heard was "kick ass and take names". And, no, it doesn't make a lot of sense. (I don't think it is as fashionable as it was 5-10 years ago.)
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Jan 16, 2019 at 1:17
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    Possible duplicate of What is the etymology of "…kick ass and take names"? Commented Jan 16, 2019 at 1:22
  • As mentioned, the idiom is kick ass and take names. It's simply used to describe somebody's behaviour—not their profession or pastime. Nor does it describe doing something well. It just means not putting up with something, doing something to correct the behaviour, and making a note of the offenders. Commented Jan 16, 2019 at 1:26
  • I'll note that I've always assumed that this expression ("kick ass and take names") has a military origin, referring to a hard-nosed drill instructor or some such. And also note that "kick ass" and "whip ass" are two different things with different connotations.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Jan 16, 2019 at 18:07

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The saying is really 'whipping ass', as in to literally hit someone's ass with a whip, the way a parent disciplines a child.

to whip (1) : to strike with a slender lithe implement (such as a lash or rod) especially as a punishment (2) : spank b : to drive or urge on by or as if by using a whip c : to strike as a lash does Source

ass (æs)

n. Vulgar Slang. 1. the buttocks. Source

In certain parts of the United States, people pronounce 'whip' as 'whup', and this further deviated to a pronunciation similar to 'whoop'.

The first meaning of the phrase was literally a parent whipping a child, as in 'His father whipped his ass for stealing.'

The second meaning of the phrase was to inflict a devastating and humiliating defeat on someone in a fight, as in 'He insulted my wife, so I whipped his ass.'

The third meaning of the phrase is the one your question refers to, which is to perform extraordinarily well or to decisively defeat someone in a non-violent competition.

'Did you win the debate?' 'Yes, I was whipping ass until they deleted my answer.'

'Did you pass the exam?' 'Yes, I whipped its ass.'

A phrase with an almost identical meaning is 'kicking ass'.

If you want to use this phrase appropriately, don't say it in polite company.

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  • What about the taking names part?
    – KarlG
    Commented Jan 16, 2019 at 1:50
  • Taking names came later and serves as an intensifier.
    – TheLeopard
    Commented Jan 16, 2019 at 1:56

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