kick in the pants, a

Idioms & Phrases

kick in the pants, a

  1. Also, a kick in the teeth. A humiliating setback or rebuff. For example, That rejection was a real kick in the pants, or That review was a kick in the teeth. A third, vulgar variant of these colloquial terms is a kick in the ass. Versions of this last expression kick in the breech, kick in the behindhave been used since the early 1800s.

  2. A cause of enjoyment, as in That show was a real kick in the pants. This meaning is virtually the opposite of def. 1 and can be differentiated from it only by the context. [1960s]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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