Origin of the phrase WILD HAIR UP HIS ASS: a true story

I ended up looking up the origin of the phrase “wild hair up his ass” this morning, and discovered there is shit-all about it on the internet.

This in itself is astonishing — it’s the INTERNET, you know? It knows everything. But apparently not.

The best I could find, well, the only thing I could find, was “does something completely unexpected.”

ORIGIN, folks. “This is what a phrase means” is not the same thing “where the fuck did this phrase come from?”

But now, my friend, I have discovered the origin of this phrase I’ve been hearing folks say my entire life.

I was in the bathroom this morning getting ready for work.

My cat was in the bathroom using his litter box.

And all of a sudden, he leaps out of the box, runs in tight circles in an absolute panic (which in a bathroom that small is a good trick), and comes to a skidding stop in front of my feet, at which point he crouches, body rigid, eyes black, ears locked back, tail whipping back and forth like we are both about to be devoured by aliens only he can see.

I look around to see what scared him.


I bend over, rest a hand on his shoulders, assure him that everything is okay, that he is all right, that nothing is going to get him…

And he relaxes, rolls on his side…

Which is when I spot about an inch of cat turd hanging from his butt, suspended as if by magic.

Probably NOT magic, I think, and grab a piece of toilet paper, and give the turd a gentle tug…

And slowly remove what’s holding it there, which is about six inches of one human hair.

Mine. Matt shaves his head, Joe keeps his hair short.

Guess who had a wild hair up his butt?

So now he’s calm, happy, purring. I pet his little fat head and kick him out of the bathroom, and get my shower.

Which is when I look up, and see the lizard hanging on the drywall above the tiles, eyeing me.

I just keep taking my shower — I spent time as a kid in both Costa Rica and Guatemala, and I have shared showers with scarier critters than that.

At least until this one dropped of the wall to the floor of the tub, and I did my own version of a “wild hair” dance.

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24 responses to “Origin of the phrase WILD HAIR UP HIS ASS: a true story”

  1. Jana Avatar

    Nix the intro (too sweary) and go straight to your story, very amusing, and anyone who has had a cat can relate. (Easy on the tinsel, as that can do serious damage to internals.) I can also relate to the lizard, although that would not scare me, unless it reached gila monster scale. Still a puzzling number of 404 returns on this particular question as to whether its origin was hair or hare and where? I’m guessing medieval? Perhaps Renaissance? But I’m no etymologist. Maybe there are some out there who can cite sources?

    1. Holly Avatar

      As a fan of profanity (and an ex-missionary kid who had people telling me what I wasn’t allowed to say for way too long), I’ll keep the minor vulgarity (that’s not even remotely a swear word) as one of my rights as a human being.

      However, I am glad you enjoyed the story.

  2. Weldon Avatar

    Wild Hair up ass : To do something out of character or unusual on impulse.

  3. Jim Avatar

    Just heard this phrase today! Funny story:
    I’m a printer and today I printed a shampoo label. In big letters it says “ not for inter vaginal use”. !
    Why would anyone even try that? Hoe much hair could possibly be in there anyway? Ok, I get an occasional hair in my mouth, but I would never say “maybe you ought to shampoo that thing!”
    Why didn’t it also say “ not for intra Anal use”. There’s probably more hair there than in the other place.
    Anyway, I mentioned this whole story to a friend who mentioned the wild hair up your ass quote.
    Lrarn something every day I guess!

  4. Cambo Avatar

    “A wild hare” (as in rabbit) refers to a capricious nature. “Up his ass” could lead to further agitation. Heard it all my life.

    1. Holly Lisle Avatar
      Holly Lisle

      Meanwhile, “wild hair up his ass” is its own complete phrase, which I’ve been hearing my whole life… And I don’t think anyone was ever referring to a bunny in his butt.

      (And all of a sudden, I am reminded of Richard Gere, God help us all.)

  5. Acacia Avatar

    OMG! This had me laughing so hard I had tears running down my cheeks. Hilarious! Never read one of your stories, but after your fantastic storytelling above, I plan to look you up! ☺️

  6. Elizabeth Avatar

    You sure it’s not a Wild Herr? Although, having one of those up your nethers creates a whole different connotation! LOL

  7. Nicole Avatar

    I’ve heard ‘got a wild hair’ before, but I’ve never heard it connected with asses before.

    I worked in a horse barn in my misspent youth, and if you didn’t clean out a water trough often enough, a stray horse hair could pick up aquatic microscopic wildlife, and would writhe – a wild hair.

    I associated the phrase with that phenomenon; the icky wiggling hair in the water.

    Kinda misses the ‘ass’ bit, though. And, yeah, happened to my cat, as well as to more than one of my pet rats over the years. I’m surprised there’s no ‘wild tinsel’ saying.

  8. David Avatar

    Years ago, one Christmas, I was minding my own business and trying to relax after a long, hard day at work. Suddenly, there was a horrible screech as the cat went batshit crazy, running through house like an invisible demon was hot on it’s heels. I didn’t know what was going on… Until the cat started heading up the stairs. A long piece of silver tinsel was hanging out of the cat’s ass bouncing up each step. That cat was doing it’s level best to get away!

    1. Holly Avatar

      Apparently that is the Cat Official Playbook response for that type of problem. 😀

  9. Rebecca Avatar

    I am a dog owner and can attest that this is a dog issue too. In fact, one of my dogs has tail hair that is about 9 inches long so luckily I get to blame any such issues on her! 🙂

  10. Tammi Labrecque Avatar
    Tammi Labrecque

    I pulled a hair out of my cat the other day — the other end, thankfully — that had to be three feet long. I can’t imagine who it even came from!

    He was displeased, but not as displeased as he would have been if it made its way through!

  11. Gregg Avatar

    It’s a dog thing too.

  12. Erin Zarro Avatar

    Too funny.

    That actually happened with my cat once.

    There’s also “he’s got a feather up his ass” which I heard my former boss say frequently when my other former boss was in A Mood.

    1. Holly Avatar

      Never heard that one. It’s a bit tougher to imagine how THAT might happen.

  13. dragon Avatar

    Somehow I’d always spelled it “hare” after watching the insanity of a jack rabbit lope across the desert, or the way the does shoot off in all directions when startled. (I know, difficult to imagine one small rabbit doing all that to lose a predator, but sometimes it looks like that.)This also maketh sense. Thanks for the laugh.

    1. Holly Avatar

      Yours was an interesting take, but I do find myself questioning where, exactly, the hare would have hidden (and how he would have gotten there) that would make the second half of that phrase work…

  14. Carolyn McBride Avatar

    Ohmygoddess that was too funny! Like, spit my coffee all over my monitor, funny. Thank you for that humourous glimpse into your morning.

    1. Holly Avatar

      😀 All good. It’s funnier in the telling than in the doing, of course.

  15. Karin Avatar

    Never heard that phrase either, but, makes sense!!! And I have cats and have experienced that “wild hair” moment…. ugh.

    1. Holly Avatar

      Yeah… Have had cats since I was twenty. Sheldon is the first for whom I’ve had to provide that particular assistance.

      Becky insists we had others who did that — but if they did, she or Mark were doing the rescue bits. And they never said anything to me.

  16. Katharina Gerlach Avatar

    lol – I’ve nver heard the phraye before but the story is sure funny like (shit?)…

    1. Holly Avatar

      English has some weird little phrases — and I don’t know how that one came to have such wide usage in my family, most of whom were dog people. I’m betting this is NOT a thing that dogs or dog owners deal with.

      But I’d heard it for years, and was… pleased? Amused, anyway, to find out a compelling and likely answer for my long-standing question on the origin of the phrase.

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