I am spending one month in the US and it seems that everything is “big ass”, “lame ass”, and “crazy ass”. What is the purpose of modifying every adjective with “ass”? Is this an Americanism or some global trend which I have yet to notice (I don’t watch television). Where did this phenomenon begin?
Medicine before the disease: I have seen the relevant XKCD comic.
EDIT: I just found this from another E.SE page. It does discuss the phenomenon but does not mention the origin. Is this phenomenon not new?
It may have begun as part of a few stock phrases, but now I would say -ass functions as a generic intensifier. Colloquial English has a lot of these (one might say an assload), often making use of rude or vulgar words for added impact. One could as easily say fucking crazy, crazy as shit, crazy as hell, hella crazy, crazy as fuck, crazy as balls, or even combine them as balls-ass crazy.