Kick off or kick back

Kicking is used frequently in idioms and slang, here is an explanation for two of the many expressions: kick off and kick back

Kicking off in the garden © Saniphoto | Dreamstime.com

Kick off is – you guessed it – another idiom borrowed from sports – American football.  There a kick off is the start of each half of the play (and overtime, if applicable), and after each scoring play (goal).  So it indicates a new start.  It does the same in a figurative context.  For example in business kick-off meetings are typically held at the beginning of a project, when one gets all the people involved in a room to discuss timelines, deliverables, and responsibilities. Another example for good usage of the expression would be a sentence like “they kicked off the big promotional tour with a press conference”, meaning that the press conference was the first thing to happen and started the campaign.

Kick off is also slang for dying.  It is not a very nice expression and should be avoided in polite conversation.

Kicking back means several things as well.  There is the literal meaning, kicking somebody back who kicked you first.  But besides that it is often used to mean “take it easy” or relax.

“What did you guys do on the weekend?”

“Nothing much.  We just kicked back at home.”

This is a casual expression but one without negative connotations and can therefore be used in casual conversation, including a chat with the colleagues at work.

Kick back can also mean to pay a kickback, that is to make a secret payment in return for a favor; especially an illegal one.

To make matters worse there is kick in, kick around and kick up plus a number of other idioms containing the word kick.  Those will be covered in another blog.

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