kick·​back | \ ˈkik-ˌbak How to pronounce kickback (audio) \

Definition of kickback

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a return of a part of a sum received often because of confidential agreement or coercion every city contract had been let with a ten percent kickback to city officials— D. K. Shipler
2 : a sharp violent reaction

kick back

kicked back; kicking back; kicks back

Definition of kick back (Entry 2 of 2)

intransitive verb

: to assume a relaxed position or attitude also : to spend time relaxing : take it easy spent the weekend just kicking back

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Synonyms for kickback

Synonyms: Verb

bask, loll, lounge, relax, repose, rest

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Examples of kickback in a Sentence


Several company executives were accused of accepting kickbacks.


I plan to spend the day kicking back and watching television. a good resort for people who want to kick back and watch others exercise strenuously
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The Red Sox also fired their Dominican scouting supervisor, Pablo Lantigua, in 2008 over alleged kickbacks. Bob Hohler,, "Dominican official probing David Ortiz shooting is also on MLB payroll," 24 Aug. 2019 The strength workout was another slice of home, two short sets of shoulder presses, chest flies, upright rows, and triceps kickbacks, after a quick air-boxing warmup. Zachary Lewis,, "Home exercise options abound with Studio Sweat OnDemand: Stretching Out," 23 Aug. 2019 In return, prosecutors said, Lynch paid Pullman two $5,000 kickbacks. Joey Garrison, USA TODAY, "Former Massachusetts police union president used dues as 'personal piggy bank,' feds say," 21 Aug. 2019 Until rules for federal contracting were instituted, single-bid federal contracts were often the yield of campaign contributions, while federal officials benefited from kickbacks on contracts their offices signed. James M. Banner Jr., Time, "Corruption, Cover-Ups and the Shocking Presidential History to Remember as Robert Mueller Testifies," 22 July 2019 The rebates that drug manufacturers pay to Medicare plans have long been permitted because they aren’t barred under statutes prohibiting kickbacks to secure federal business. Stephanie Armour, WSJ, "Trump Administration Drops Plan to Curb Drug Rebates," 11 July 2019 With ratings like that, DeWalt wisely equipped the tool with an electronic clutch to prevent kickback and motor burnout, and an auxiliary handle with the stoutness of a nightstick. Popular Mechanics, "The 2019 Popular Mechanics Tool Awards," 14 June 2019 In many other cases, Western companies signed off on deals involving third-party contractors who paid bribes and sought kickbacks. New York Times, "Bribes and Backdoor Deals Help Foreign Firms Sell to China’s Hospitals," 14 June 2019 Prisons and jails get kickbacks from every phone call, and the communications companies make millions in the process. Hanna Kozlowska, Quartz, "In the twisted world of prison communications, voicemail is an innovation," 12 June 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'kickback.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of kickback


1920, in the meaning defined at sense 2


1972, in the meaning defined above

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Dictionary Entries near kickback


kick around



kick back



Statistics for kickback

Last Updated

27 Aug 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for kickback

The first known use of kickback was in 1920

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More Definitions for kickback



Financial Definition of kickback

What It Is

A kickback is a method of bribery in which something of value is exchanged for a favorable decision.

How It Works

A kickback can take many forms, all of which are illegal.  For example, a building contractor might give a portion of what he or she is paid to a government official who approved the building plans for the project.  Or, a biomedical company might offer training, travel, or other benefits to doctors who recommend theev product to patients.  Another example would be a financial institution that provides cash or bonuses to mortgage brokers who convince borrowers to select their services over another provider.

Why It Matters

There are a number of specific laws prohibiting kickbacks.  For example, a payment to a US government official may trigger a fine of three times of value of the kickback and a prison sentence of up to 15 years.  Bank kickbacks are prohibited under the Bank Bribery Amendments Act of 1985, which, in addition to the monetary fine, can also imprison offenders for up to 30 years. The Anti-Kickback Act of 1986 specifically prohibits government contractors from kickback schemes, and subjects violators to both civic and criminal charges.

Companies should steer clear of giving any special direct or indirect favors or making payments including finder's fees, gifts, and special payments to family or friends of a banker or government official.  Such actions may be perceived as kickbacks and subject to penalties/punishment.

Source: Investing Answers



English Language Learners Definition of kickback

: an amount of money that is given to someone in return for providing help in a secret and dishonest business deal


kick·​back | \ ˈkik-ˌbak How to pronounce kickback (audio) \

Legal Definition of kickback

: a payment (as of money or property) made to one in a position to open up or control a source of income for the payor convicted of receiving kickbacks for referrals — compare bribe, payoff

Note: A kickback is specifically a payment for income received or to be received. The word is usually not restricted to a return of funds.

More from Merriam-Webster on kickback

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with kickback

Nglish: Translation of kickback for Spanish Speakers

Comments on kickback

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one from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan

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