In the text below, what does "butt-high" mean?

"The bathroom was an olive green. The middle of the wall that led to the sink had a heating vent in it. That always came in handy when I came in from the snow because it was butt-high."

Can it mean "something warm"?

closed as off-topic by Dan Bron, Hot Licks, Jason Bassford, JJJ, Nigel J Apr 30 at 11:46

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    Welcome to EL&U. One of the expectations of Stack Exchange is that you demonstrate your initial attempts at research; for example, did you look up butt in a dictionary? I strongly encourage you to take the site tour and review the help center for additional guidance. Our sister site for English Language Learners may also be of interest. – choster Apr 29 at 23:03
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    Hello. It's like knee-high, which means tall enough to reach your knees. – KannE Apr 29 at 23:31
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    @KannE -- Only a little higher. – Hot Licks Apr 29 at 23:35
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    @HotLicks, KannE: Guys. – Mitch Apr 30 at 0:01
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    Grouping 2 comments together. @KannE please post an answer, "butt" (AmEng) is not a word commonly taught in language schools, and there are numerous meanings, I can see why the OP was confused. If you cannot find a definition of "butt-high" then why has this post got three votes in favour of closing? 2 of which are for lack of research. P.S I'll only upvote an answer, not a comment :) – Mari-Lou A Apr 30 at 7:33

No, it does not mean something warm, it means (in American colloquial speech) that the source of heat was at about the level of the writer's bottom; a convenient way to warm up when they were thoroughly chilled.

The previous sentence says that there is a vent 'in the middle of the wall'. In most adults that comes about as high as their waist or, at the same height, their butt.

It is a common pattern in informal English to describe a height as high as some other known thing, particularly part of one's anatomy. Ankle-high, knee-high, chest-high, or even the inarticulate yay-high where you gesture with your hand the approximate height.

'Butt-high'is not a common usage mostly because 'butt' is a tiny bit taboo. 'Buttocks' is the more formal way to say it, but outside of Forrest Gump, is probably only used by doctors and those who want to sound snooty. There are a number of synonyms, al with their own levels of tabooness or minced -oath sounding. Rear, rear-end, seat, derriere, ass. Of these, 'ass' is the most taboo (in the adult direction, but there's a lot worse), and 'rear' the least.

  • I was trying to think of the polite British word, and was having a mental blockage. But I think in this country any sales person would cop-out and call it "waist-high". – WS2 Apr 30 at 8:45
  • @WS2, I think most docs here say "buttocks" (a synonym of bottom; US, SE Region) if they don't know the patient well. – KannE Apr 30 at 9:10
  • @mitch Not sure I agree with the ethics of such a radical edit. Much rather vote to reopen the question. – Mari-Lou A Apr 30 at 13:08
  • @Mitch In Britain "posterior" can be used quite innocently, with a hint of mirth. – WS2 Apr 30 at 15:46

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