A Straight Dope Classic from Cecil's Storehouse of Human Knowledge

What's the origin of "side kick"?

April 19, 1976

Dear Cecil:

Where did the phrase "side kick" originate?

Cecil replies:

Around the turn of the century, "side kick" was pickpocket slang for the front pocket in a coat or a pair of pants. Some unknown poet of the underworld must have made the connection between the front pocket--the hardest to pick--and an inseparable companion. By 1920 "side kick" meant "friend," and around 1940 it took on its present meaning, "Gabby Hayes."

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