KICK IN THE PANTS: not exactly the definition I was expecting!

Someone on tv commented that this mid-term election is a “kick in the pants” election.   I nodded my head and agreed with them.  It is a “wake up” call to the Democrats to get their act together prior to the 1012 Presidential election.   It seemed like a good comment to make.  The commentator went on to say that poll information they had received indicated that a huge number of people reported that their intentions to vote Republican in 2010 were only “temporary” intentions.   They wanted to send a message, but they had no intention of joining the Republican Party or even continuing to vote Republican in the future.   They just didn’t know how else to let their Democratic leadership know that they are disappointed in the direction of the current administration.   Maybe a “kick in the pants” would wake them up.

You can imagine my surprise, therefore, when I did my research and discovered that the meaning for the term “kick in the pants” is not about bringing somebody to their senses.   To the contrary, the term means:

“someone or something that is very exciting, enjoyable, amusing, etc.: I think you’ll like her, she’s a real kick in the pants.”
I was shocked.  I’ve never heard the term used that way before … which is not to say that the dictionary was wrong.  It’s just that I’ve always identified the term “a kick in the pants” to be a gesture intended to motivate someone.  As in:

“Maybe my being tough on him will help him to get started.

In my mind it’s kind of like a “tough love” comment.  Well, whether or not the commentator had the right meaning for the term, he had the right point.   There is a lot to be said for wanting the Democrats to get motivated to be a winning team.  They’ve spent a lot of times over the past couple of years playing political games with a recalcitrant Republican opposition.   Properly identified as “the party of NO” for the past two years, the Republican party shut down the legislative process.   Some have speculated that it was intentional … a methodology designed to undermine and render impotent the President and the Democratic Party.   What a cruel trick to play on a beleaguered American public if that’s the case.
It’s not as if the Democrats don’t have fuel for a more vibrant campaign.   But that’s for another blog posting after the results are made known tonight.    Suffice it to say that the real meaning of a kick in the pants doesn’t apply to this election.  This is not “exciting, enjoyable or amusing.
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  1. Ah, yes, I anticipated there was more to the phrase than what I had found in Interesting to think that it might depend upon the speaker’s location as to which meaning it utilizes. I suspect that the idea of a motivating “kick in the rear” is the more common usage in my part of the world. The other meaning seems a little archaic.

  2. in my opinion the jury is out on this one, at least as far as the meaning is concerned:
    for disappointment
    for strong encouragement
    for a push

    there also appears to be an AE/BE slant to this, so that how it is understood might well depend on which side of the pond you’re sitting.

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