Word Origin & History
c.1380, "to strike out with the foot" (earliest in biblical phrase now usually rendered as kick against the pricks), of uncertain origin, perhaps from O.N. kikna "bend backwards, sink at the knees." Fig. sense of "complain, protest, rebel against" (1388) probably is from the Bible verse. Slang sense
of "die" is attested from 1725 (kick the wind was slang for "be hanged," 1598; see also bucket). Meaning "to end one's drug habit" is from 1936. To kick oneself in self-reproach is from 1891. The noun is first recorded 1530. Meaning "recoil (of a gun) when fired" is from 1826. Meaning "surge or fit of pleasure" (often as kicks) is from 1941; originally lit., "stimulation from liquor or drugs" (1844). The kick "the fashion" is c.1700. Kick-off is from 1857 as the first kick in a football match; fig. sense of "start, beginning event" is from 1875. Kickback "illegal or improper payment" is from 1934. Kickboxing first recorded 1971.