August 4, 2017
I get a kick out of playing video games.
I decided to go with this idiom because it’s positive an a little fun. Little did I know that the origin was kind of staring me in the face — but not really.
Anyway, it’s easy to surmise that the meaning of “I get a kick out of [someone or something]” means that the person speaking is enjoying their time. Either they enjoy being around another person, most likely a paramour, or they enjoy doing what they’re doing.
But the first use of this phrase came in the form of a love song.
What Is the Origin of ‘I Get a Kick Out of …’?
The phrase was first found in the song “I Get a Kick Out of You,” which was written by Cole Porter in the early 1930’s (“get”). It was first sung by Ethel Merman in the 1934 Broadway musical Anything Goes. The play was eventually adapted into a 1936 movie, which also featured the song (Wikipedia). (Merman also starred in the film.)
The song has been covered by other artists, including Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald.
The 1995 cover earned arranger Rob McConnell a 1996 Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Arrangement with Accompanying Vocal(s) (Wikipedia).
About the Lyrics
Now, you’ve heard the lyrics in those videos, but they have been altered in many subsequent versions.
Here is the original second verse …
Some get a kick from cocaine
I’m sure that if I took even one sniff
That would bore me terrific’ly, too
Yet I get a kick out of you
The first line was replaced with “Some like the perfume in Spain” by Porter for the 1936 film release in order to comply with Hollywood’s Production Code of 1934 (Wikipedia).
There were other alterations like …
- “Some like the perfume from Spain”;
- “Some like a whiff of Guerlain,” and’
- “Some like the bob-type refrain.”
Here is the original final verse …
I get no kick in a plane
I shouldn’t care for those nights in the air
That the fair Ms. Lindbergh goes through
But I get a kick out of you.
The words were quickly changed, especially after the 1932 kidnapping of the Lindburgh baby.
Here is how the verse is now …
I get no kick in a plane
Flying too high with some gal/guy in the sky
Is my idea of nothing to do
But I get a kick out of you
How Did the Word ‘Kick’ Come to Be Used This Way?
There’s an interesting history here.
Merriam-Webster has two versions of the word “kick,” for the verb and noun. Example 5b for the noun kick is the definition I’m looking for.
a stimulating or pleasurable effect or experience <got a big kick out of meeting himc> : pursuit of an absorbing or obsessive new interest <a skiing kick>
Also, the page has information about the etymology of the word “kick.” It says here that the word comes from the Middle English term kiken and the first known use of the word “kick” was in 1530.
At the English Language & Usage Stack Exchange, there was a thread entitled “Etymology of a strange sense of ‘kick,’ as in, ‘I’m on a Sailor Moon kick right now.’” This might have seemed off the track, but two members who answered the question pointed out how the slang was a natural progression of “getting a kick out of [something].”
In particular, a user named mplungjan linked to the Online Etymology Dictionary entry for the word “kick.”
I followed the link and viewed the entire entry. Here is what I founded under the noun portion:
1520s, “a blow or thrust with the foot,” from kick (v.). Meaning “recoil (of a gun) when fired” is from 1826. Meaning “surge or fit of pleasure” (often as kicks) is from 1941; originally “stimulation from liquor or drugs” (1844). Hence kickster “one who lives for kicks” (1963). The kick “the fashion” is from c. 1700. Kicks in slang also has meant “trousers” (1700), “shoes” (1904).
In short, the way the word “kick” is used here started to change in 1844 and it changed again in the 1940 (likely due to the song).
Is There Anything You Get a Kick Out Of?
I’m a simple person. For instance, I get a kick out of a good song, a good read, a good meal, and stimulating conversation. How about you?
The Broadway League. “Anything Goes – Broadway Musical – Original.” Internet Broadway Database (IBDB). Web. Retrieved 4 Aug 2017. <https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-production/anything-goes-9382>.
“I Get A Kick Out Of You Lyric – Cole Porter.” LyricsFreak. Web. Retrieved 4 Aug 2017. <http://www.lyricsfreak.com/c/cole+porter/i+get+a+kick+out+of+you_20209574.html>.
“Kick.” Online Etymology Dictionary. Web. <http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=kick>.
“Kick | Definition of Kick by Merriam-Webster.” Merriam-Webster. Web. Retrieved 4 Aug 2017. <https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/kick>.
Various. “Anything Goes (1936).” Internet Movie Database (IMDb). Web. Retrieved 4 Au 2017. Web. <http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0027302/?ref_=nv_sr_2>.
Various. “Etymology of a strange sense of ‘kick,’ as in, ‘I’m on a Sailor Moon kick right now.’” English Language & Usage Stack Exchange. 12 May 2011. Web. Retrieved 4 Aug 2017. <https://english.stackexchange.com/questions/24971/etymology-of-a-strange-sense-of-kick-as-in-im-on-a-sailor-moon-kick-right>.