kick off

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kick off

Post by Ken Greenwald » Thu Jan 07, 2016 9:38 pm

aaa
An anxious boy tries to get help to find his missing mother:
<2013 “The boy started bouncing on the balls of his feet, all wound up and nowhere to go. He wasn’t the sort of lad who would kick off, she thought she knew that. But that was no reason not to try to placate him.”—Cross and Burn by Val McdDermid, page 9>
‘Kick off’ has many meanings (e.g. game kicks off, kick off your shoes, the show kicks off this week . . .), but the one that fits here is a bit of British slang.

MACMILLAN DICTIONARY

KICK OFF verb intransitive British informal: To suddenly become very angry or upset and start fighting or arguing. <He just kicked off without warning when he saw her.>

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CAMBRIDGE DICTIONARIES ONLINE

KICK OFF phrasal verb British English, informal: To start to get angry or complain in a noisy way, <The children started to kick off so I couldn’t stay.>
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Now I know you are thirsting for my usual list of quotes, but it turns out there were 365,320 hits for this phrase in the archive I checked. I pared it down to 269,921 by subtracting out the word ‘football;’ then to 244,836 by subtracting out ‘rugby’; then to 122,126 by subtracting out ‘time;’ then 106,056 by subtracting out ‘campaign’; then to 93,396 by subtracting out ‘sports’; then to 60,311 by subtracting out ‘event’; . . . . Well, I did chop the list down by a factor of 6, but sorry folks. I give up! (>:)
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Ken G – January 7, 2016
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Re: kick off

Post by trolley » Thu Jan 07, 2016 10:13 pm

Sounds similar to our "go off". I'd imagine that comes from the idea of a bomb or some sort of explosion.
"She asked me if those pants made her ass look big. I said I didn't think it was the pants and she just went off!" Besides "beginning something" the only other use of "kick off", around here, would be to die. That probably is related to "kicking the bucket".
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Re: kick off

Post by Erik_Kowal » Fri Jan 08, 2016 12:18 am

For what it's worth, I've never come across the 'get suddenly angry' sense of the term, whether in Britain or anywhere else. Either I've been leading a very sheltered existence; or it's not (yet?) a particularly common expression; or it is a dialectal usage. 'Go off', on the other hand (which Trolley also mentioned), I've heard many times.
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Re: kick off

Post by Wizard of Oz » Fri Jan 08, 2016 4:19 am

Had I been left to decide the meaning, without looking it up, I would've opted for "leave". That would give the sentence the meaning that the woman wasn't worried that he would leave before she could calm him down.

Haven't come across your slang meaning Ken in Aus.

WoZ who has been known to kick off, in several senses
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Re: kick off

Post by Bobinwales » Fri Jan 08, 2016 1:43 pm

Kick off in the sense of starting something, be it an argument, fight or somesuch, is not at all a strange expression. I have heard it many times in casual conversation.
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I just assumed that rugby and football games start with a kick off, so....
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Re: kick off

Post by Phil White » Fri Jan 08, 2016 3:26 pm

Hi Ken,

"Kick off" in that precise sense is something you will hear occasionally in the UK, but it's not massively widespread.

The sense of "launch" or "start", is extremely widespread in business-speak, and I suspect you would reduce your hit list considerably by subtracting the word "meeting". "Kick-off meetings" for projects and so on are commonplace.

As far as "go off" is concerned, the phrase "go off on one" is extremely common slang over here, usually in the context of a parent or partner telling someone off and ranting at great length ("give someone an earhole bashing" is an older phrase with much the same meaning). "Go ballistic" is still used when somebody gets extremely loud and angry, but I feel that it has fallen out of favour somewhat over the past five years or so.
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Re: kick off

Post by Ken Greenwald » Fri Jan 08, 2016 10:06 pm

aaa
Thanks Phil, I like 'go ballistic.' Too bad it's fading away. I subtracted out office and got down to 54,111. It's kind of fun subtracting out words and seeing how low you can go. I got down to 33,672 using several more words. A nice game to play on a rainy afternoon.
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Ken — January 8, 2016
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