break/bust one's ass

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break (one's) ass

1. rude slang (acting upon oneself) To exert a significant amount of energy or work very hard to do, accomplish, or complete something. I've been breaking my ass all night long to get this presentation ready for tomorrow's meeting. She's going to have to break her ass if she wants a place on the varsity team.
2. rude slang (acting upon someone else) To harass, nag, or upbraid someone to do, accomplish, or complete something. The boss is breaking everyone's asses to get the project ready by next week. Quit breaking my ass! I'll get it done eventually!
See also: ass, break

bust (one's) ass

1. rude slang To exert a significant amount of energy or work very hard to do, accomplish, or complete something. I've been busting my ass all night long to get this presentation ready for tomorrow's meeting. She's going to have to bust her ass if she wants a place on the varsity team.
2. rude slang To harass, nag, or upbraid one to do, accomplish, or complete something. The boss is busting everyone's ass to get the project ready by next week. Quit busting my ass! I'll get it done eventually!
3. rude slang To defeat one decisively. We weren't prepared for the game, and the other team busted our asses.
4. rude slang To physically attack one; to beat one up. I'll bust your ass if I ever see you talking to my girlfriend again.
5. rude slang To tease one; to give one a hard time. Aw, come on, dude, I was just busting your ass. No need to get upset about it.
See also: ass, bust
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

break/bust one's ass

Exert oneself to the utmost degree; work very hard. This rather vulgar usage dates from the first half of the 1900s. Norman Mailer had it in his war novel, The Naked and the Dead (1948): “What’re we breakin’ our asses for? Let’s take it easy.” Sometimes “butt” is substituted for “ass.” See also work one's tail off.
See also: ass, break, bust
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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