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Kick (A)

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Sixpence. “Two-and-a-kick” = two shillings and sixpence. (Anglo-Saxon, cicel, a bit. In Jamaica a “bit” = sixpence, and generally it means the smallest silver coin in circulation; thus, in America, a “bit” is fourpence. We speak of a “threepenny bit.”)

It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks” (Acts ix. 5; and xxvi. 14.) The proverb occurs in Pindar (2 Pythian Victories, v. 173), in Æschylos (Agamemnon, 1,624), in Euripʹidēs (Bacchœ, 791), in Terence (Phormio, i. ii. 27), in Ovid (Tristia, book ii. 15), etc.; but whether the reference is to an ox kicking when goaded, or a horse when pricked with the rowels of a spur, is not certain. The plural kentra seems to refer to more than one, and pros kentra cannot refer to a repetition of goad thrusts. Altogether, the rowels of a spur suit the phrase better than the single point of an ox-goad.

N.B. The Greek pros with an accusative is not = the Latin adversus, such a meaning would require a genitive case; it means in answer to, i.e. to kick when spurred or goaded.

More kicks than haʹpence. More abuse than profit. Calledmonkey’s allowance” in allusion to monkeys led about to collect haʹpence by exhibiting “their parts.” The poor brutes get the kicks if they do their parts in an unsatisfactory manner, but the master gets the haʹpence collected.

Quite the kick. Quite a dandy. The Italians call a dandy a chic. The French chic means knack, as avoir le chic, to have the knack of doing a thing smartly.

“I cocked my hat and twirled my stick,

And the girls they called me quite the kick.”


George Colman the Younger.

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Entry taken from Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, edited by the Rev. E. Cobham Brewer, LL.D. and revised in 1895.

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