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kick in the pants, a

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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]

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The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.

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