a kick in the pants
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Legal, Encyclopedia.
a kick in the pants
1. A forceful gesture or message of some kind (usually delivered with good intentions) that acts as motivation to the (previously unmotivated) recipient. These days, teenagers seem to need a swift kick in the pants to convince them to do well in school. That speeding ticket was the kick in the pants that Dan needed to get his driving under control.
2. A frustrating or unwelcome occurrence. Having to move back in with my parents at age 40 is a real kick in the pants.
3. A source of pleasure or enjoyment. Our night out was a real a kick in the pants—we had a great time.
kick in the (seat of the) pantsand kick in the ass; a kick in the butt; a kick in the teeth
Fig. Inf. a strong message of encouragement or demand. (Use ass and butt with discretion.) All he needs is a kick in the seat of the pants to get him going. A kick in the butt will get her moving.
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 behind-have 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]
See also: kick
a kick in the pantsINFORMAL
A kick in the pants is a something that forces someone to act more quickly and effectively or which punishes them if they do not. Some of us in the business community need a kick in the pants. It's a kick in the pants for the politicians who promise to deliver and then fail to do so.
a kick in the pants (or up the arse or backside)something that prompts or forces fresh effort. informal
1996 Southern Cross On Saturday night, Mr Groom said the party understood the electorate had given the Liberals a kick in the pants.
kick in the pantsverb
kick in the (seat of the) pants, a
A reproof or reprimand; also, a goad or spur to get someone moving. Both can be literal or figurative. The idea must be very old indeed, and the expression, a euphemism for a kick in the posterior, appeared in Samuel Butler’s Hudibras (1663). A more recent term with the same meaning as the first sense is a kick in the teeth, used from the mid-twentieth century on.