ass vs donkey

Crawford Powell

Senior Member
Native Arabic speaker from "Egypt"
-What's the difference between (Ass & Donkey) in the following sentence:
  • The clown was depicted in the medieval Europe as funny man wearing colourful clothes riding a(n) ass/donkey.
 
  • Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    Here is a rather long article giving more information than you could ever want on the subject. It affirms Dermott's response:

    Donkey, Ass, Burro, Mule, What They All Mean

    Ass: The correct term for the animal commonly known as the donkey, burro, or jackstock. The term comes from the original Latin term for the animal which was Asinus. The scientific term for these animals is Equus asinus. The term fell into disrepute through confusion with the indelicate term “Arse” meaning the human backside. You are never at fault when you refer to one of these animals as an ass, and the term is not improper unless you misuse it so yourself.
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    You mean the indelicate term "ass" (same pronunciation and spelling but completely different meaning, as you indicated). There is no such word as "arse".
    Your comment is almost correct in AE. The term "arse" is British English, and uncommon in AE where "ass" is standard.
     

    icecreamsoldier

    Senior Member
    New Zealand English
    -What's the difference between (Ass & Donkey) in the following sentence:
    • The clown was depicted in the medieval Europe as funny man wearing colourful clothes riding a(n) ass/donkey.
    In your sentence, I would prefer "ass" because it is closer to the language of the time and place in question. For me "donkey" would seem an anachronism here. The usage of "donkey" has only increased more recently, having its origins in the late eighteenth century (circa 1785). You will never find "donkey" in medieval English (or in Shakespeare, who had fun with the potential confusion of ass and arse in A Midsummer Night's Dream, as the character Bottom has his head turned into that of an ass).
     
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