"Ain't That A Kick In The Head"

Listening to Dean Martin crooning “Ain’t That A Kick In The Head” yesterday on the local oldies radio station I got to wondering the origin of this colorful phrase. Did a bit of searching today but came up with nothing. I have a vagure recollection that it started as some comedian’s catch-phrase, but that may just be random neurons firing.

Anyone got the straight dope?

“. . . and the sailor said, quote, ain’t that a hole in the boat?”

Sorry, I have nothing constructive to contribute, but I had to pop in and continue the theme. Darn you for starting that tune in my head again - I had just barely eradicated it.

Searching newspaper databases prior to that song being popular, turns up nothing. I did, however, find an ad in a newspaper from 1951, with Earl Scheib(you know, paint your car for $29.95?) saying “ain’t that a kick in the pants!”

So, my WAG is, it was “ain’t that a kick in the pants” prior to Dean’s song making the “kick in the head” more popular.

Darn you that’s what I was going to post.
And like you, I have absolutely nothing to contribute to the OP.
Great minds think alike - LOL

A “kick in the pants” is something to get you started. That is, if someone kicks you in the bottom, you’re likely to move forward.

At first I thought “a kick in the head” might be similar, but it doesn’t make sense. What does a kick in the head do? It could knock you out. That sounds like being “floored”. So it seems that if something is a “kick in the head”, then it is a shock or something that leaves you dumbstruck.

From the L.A. Times, 10 April, 1951:

(Advertisement for Earl Scheib).

Earl was using it in the same way that Dino sang it.

Well, I don’t have the Straight Dope for ya, but my guess would be that it is metaphorically referring to the jolt one would get from being kicked in the head by a horse (or a donkey, or any domesticated hoofed animal).

This is a real risk when handling their back feet for shoeing, cleaning, and whatnot, and it was probably a more well-known phenomenon back in those days of a more rural country.

How old is “a kick in the teeth”? Is that older than “a kick in the head” or newer?

“Kick in the teeth” starts to be used in the 1930’s, mainly in the early 40’s. That’s using a newspaper database.

Nice catch, there. So far, that would be the leading candidate for the earliest form of the expression.

I know the song, but not well… I’ve always thought it was “pants” and not “head” that he was singing. Even now, hearing the tune in my, erm, head, I’m hearing pants.

Something new every day.

From this point on, I shall make it my mission to somehow find a way to work that phrase into a conversation.

:smack: :smiley: