a percentage of income given to a person in a position of power or influence as payment for having made the income possible: usually considered improper or unethical.
a rebate, usually given secretively by a seller to a buyer or to one who influenced the buyer.
the practice of an employer or a person in a supervisory position of taking back a portion of the wages due workers.
a response, usually vigorous.
a sudden, uncontrolled movement of a machine, tool, or other device, as on starting or in striking an obstruction: A kickback from a chain saw can be dangerous.

Origin of kickback

1930–35, Americanism; noun use of verb phrase kick back
Related formsan·ti·kick·back, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for kickback

graft, payment, gift, payoff, cut, share, oil, recompense, percentage, reward, payola

Examples from the Web for kickback

Contemporary Examples of kickback

Historical Examples of kickback

  • The "kickback" would have certainly killed or wounded us both.

    The Red Watch

    J. A. Currie

  • The nerves of Average Jones gave a sharp "kickback," like a mis-cranked motor-car.

    Average Jones

    Samuel Hopkins Adams

  • I want to set down what happened in case there's ever a kickback although I don't think there ever will be.

    The Beasts in the Void

    Paul W. Fairman

British Dictionary definitions for kickback



a strong reaction
part of an income paid to a person having influence over the size or payment of the income, esp by some illegal arrangement

verb kick back (adverb)

(intr) to have a strong reaction
(intr) (esp of a gun) to recoil
to pay a kickback to (someone)
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for kickback

also kick-back, c.1900 in various mechanical senses, from kick (v.) + back (adv.). By 1926 in a slang sense of "be forced to return pelf, pay back to victims," which was extended to illegal partial give-backs of government-set wages that were extorted from workers by employers. Hence sense of "illegal or improper payment" (1932).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper