I came here from Wikipedia where you were referenced as the source for the origin of sidekick. I am interested in this word and posted this message at Wikipedia for more info. I couldn’t find the original string here so I’ve started a new one. Hope I didn’t violate any protocol.

Can anybody supply any other documentation on sidekick being used in reference to pick-pockets and kick being “the front side pocket of pair of trousers?” This origin seems counter-intuitive to the way sidekick has been used.

Since language grows metaphorically out of the human condition I would like to offer some intuitions on sidekick. Sidekick was the term used for a close horse riding companion; close enough to kick the side of the other horse, sometimes causing the horse to vault. Sidekick moved into vaudeville where a lead stage actor “kicked” a companion actor for comic relief.

The jump into or from other forms of entertainment / literature seems to originate from a deeper human relationship that predates “pockets and trousers.” Could Eve (out of Adam’s side) have been the first sidekick and what a “kick” she gave to Adam!

I am very interested in the word sidekick and would appreciate any info grounding its origin in the written word. Where did the factual trail begin?

Thank you. pudgala2

Hi pudgala,
Welcome to the board and enjoy the stay. Unfortunately I cannot help you much but maybe I can help someone else help you. This is the short article you referenced I believe.
What’s the origin of “side kick”? from 19-Apr-1976

The [Online Etymology Dictionary](Online Etymology Dictionary) adds this little tidbit:


samclem! Paging samclem!

Hi Jim,

Thanks for your reply and clue. The “side-kicker” puts another spin on the meaning. Now I have to hunt down the context in the O. Henry story. You, or anybody else, wouldn’t by any chance know the name of the story?

I went back to Wikipedia to check out O. Henry where they state "O. Henry is so famous for his unexpected plot twists that surprise endings are often called ‘O. Henry endings.’ " There’s even “The O. Henry Pun-Off World Championships” held each year in Austin, Texas, so he definitely played with words. I intend to start reading his stories.

The Wikipedia article also stated that “Porter [O. Henry’s real name] published at least twelve stories while in prison to help support his daughter.” So I’m back to the possibility that “sidekick” has criminal connotations, possibly from O. Henry. He could be the “unknown poet of the underworld” hinted at in Cecil Adams posting 19-Apr-1976 cited at Wikipedia.

Hi RiverRunner, I think you are closer to the truth with Samuel Clemens, but I need a paper trail. Clemens was prolific and O. Henry must have read him. Could you be more specific? Guess!

Any ideas on tracking down “kick” as a pocket? Does clothing have a documented history?

I’ve had this computer for three months and it is really an extraordinary tool. These info-sites are great and I appreciate your assistance.

Thanks again, pudgala2

p.s. Why do you both have “Report Bad Post” warning signs on your posts?

Short answer: All posts, except ones own, have this.

Long answer: FAQ - guidelines for posting at the SDMB

Well, I teach Taekwondo, so my definition of sidekick is probably NOT the one you’re looking for. :smiley:

No answer, just welcome to the boards!

The Word Detective’s word on the subject.

The term kick to mean a pocket in clothing is cited first in print in 1846. It was a trouser pocket where one kept money. And it was an underworld term at that point. But did that lead to sidekick becoming a word for a close friend, etc? I personally doubt it, just as you seem to also pudgala2.

But when you say that

, then I’ll have to ask you for some cites as to where you got your information and what’s the earliest print cite for your theory.

I just found a newspaper cite from 1901 for side kick to mean a close companion, so you’ll have to find print cites earlier than that for your assertions.

So you’re the “samclem” RiverRunner was paging. I thought he was hinting that sidekick was used and/or created by Samuel Clemens!

You missed the first sentence in the paragraph you quoted me from:

“Since language grows metaphorically out of the human condition I would like to offer some intuitions on sidekick.”

I could have written it clearer to indicate I was guessing and not citing. I wanted to move the dialogue away from pickpockets toward horse riding companions. My earliest recollection of sidekick always involved cowboys riding side by side; riding close they can’t help but “kick” each other. The jump into vaudeville was another guess. Just some guesses without citations.

Speaking of citations, could you give me the source and exact citation for kick you mentioned. If both kick and sidekick are slang terms I want to trace them back to the earliest conditions that produced them, underworld, cowboy world, vaudeville, and/or the writer’s world (including newspapers).

Thank you for your consideration.

No, I am neither that knowledgeable nor that subtle. Most of the time, anyway.

samclem is our chief resident etymologist; there are quite a few good ones here, though.