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Posted by Drdo on October 03, 2007

In Reply to: Kick-in-the-pants posted by Smokey Stover on October 02, 2007

: : I'm looking for the origin and background information (not meaning) for the positive form of "kick-in-the-pants". (A joy, amusing, fun to be with...) I went on your archives and it pulled up Archives 13. But I scrolled down the entire #13 and found no reference. Appreciate your help.

: This is not an easy case, at least not for me. The negative kick, or kick in the pants, or kick in the teeth, as a mark of punishment or criticism, goes back to the 17th century, but in the kick-in-the-pants form especially to the 20th century. Kick in the pants has also appeared as kick in the behind and kick in the ass. How could it not?

: Another meaning of kick is the kind of kick you get from strong liquor, a jolt or sharp stimulation, and often, therefore, a thrill, a feeling of excitement or pleasure. "I get a kick out of you." This meaning appears from the 19th century on.

: I haven't personally seen any search for the origin of "kick in the pants" as equivalent to a jolt of excitement or pleasure, but it seems to me that it results from combining the kick of excitement or pleasure in the form of a jolt, with an already-established phrase, kick in the pants. The resulting confusion that this portends is presumably headed off by seeing the context. "Kick in the pants" as a jolt of excitement or a happy thrill is, I'm sure, a 20th-century usage.
: SS