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24 January 2011

Monday's Word - SIDEKICK

 As writers, we often introduce a 'sidekick' into our stories.  Even if we're writing romance, the sub genres, mystery, suspense, and especially fantasy or Science Fiction, Western Historicas, often need someone at the hero or heroine's side, to assist them on their quest, and sometimes to provide a little comic relief.  But do you know where the term 'Sidekick' orginated from?  Well, according to Michael Quinion in his 'World Wide Words'
 
"Scott W Langill recalled a book of the 1930s by a
pickpocket that mentioned this and noted that the side pocket - the side kick - was the hardest pocket to pick and that the slang term for a buddy and its connotation of trustworthiness both came from it. You may judge the etymological insight of the writer from his view that the rear trouser pocket, in pickpockets' slang called the "prat", was the origin of "prat fall".

It's the other way around -"prat", as a slang term for a buttock, dates from about 1560 and the hip-pocket sense is twentieth century. Unfortunately for the tellers of trouser pocket tales, "kick" for a pocket was British slang, not American, whereas the buddy meaning of "sidekick" is definitely from the US.

Others mentioned several specialist uses of "kicker" that might have contributed to its meaning. One is the poker sense of a side card that breaks a tie. Another is the printer's sense of a device that after a set count of pages pushes one slightly to the side so pages can be easily counted or separated into sets.

A third is that the original sidekicks would have ridden horses, encouraged by kicks to their sides, so a sidekick was one who rode alongside you. "

So what do you think, which of the theories would you subscribe to? 

Myself, I think all three have something going for them - although as a 'horseperson' I'm not too keen about people 'kicking' their horses sides - a gentle nudge with the heel is all that should be necessary, but that's another topic altogether!


Reproduced with permission
*World Wide Words is copyright (c) Michael Quinion 2010. All rights reserved. The Words Website is at:
http://www.worldwidewords.org/