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

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Examples of kickback in a Sentence

Noun Several company executives were accused of accepting kickbacks. Verb 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 Prosecutors said the money was a kickback for the 72 payments, totaling $1.9 million, that the support facility had by then sent to Fitzgerald's company. Katelyn Umholtz,, "New Orleans-based Marine Corps supervisor admits taking $250K in kickbacks for bus contracts," 4 Jan. 2021 Macomb County suspended a top assistant prosecutor in September after the Free Press revealed his role in a kickback scheme that could send former Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith to prison for obstruction of justice., "Free Press stories a driver of change in Michigan," 27 Dec. 2020 The gunshot felt smooth, a profound bass explosion with a silky kickback and unspeakable power. Susan Casey, Field & Stream, "F&S Classics: An Improbable Elk Hunt," 6 Dec. 2020 Federal investigators arrested Tataw Charlz Bisong and Angela Bisong, both 57, for their involvement in the Medicare kickback scheme. Alison Medley, Chron, "Houston home healthcare owners charged for billing $10M in phony Medicare claims in kickback scheme," 16 Dec. 2020 Federal authorities next unearthed a kickback scheme worth hundreds of thousands of dollars at another training center the union ran with General Motors Co. , ensnaring a former UAW vice president and two of his associates. Nora Naughton, WSJ, "UAW Reaches Settlement With Feds in Multiyear Corruption Probe," 14 Dec. 2020 In 2010, Vrdolyak was sentenced to 10 months behind bars for his role in a $1.5 million real estate kickback scheme linked to the federal probe that felled then-Gov. John Byrne,, "Ex-Chicago Ald. Edward Vrdolyak sentenced to federal prison. Here are 5 things to know about the man known as ‘Fast Eddie.’," 4 Dec. 2020 He's accused of concocting a kickback scheme to sluice $70,000 from his re-election account between 2012 and 2019. Christina Hall, Detroit Free Press, "Ex-Prosecutor Eric Smith has COVID-19, plea hearing moved in criminal case," 13 Nov. 2020 But the sentencing on August 28th of Oleksandr Levkivsky, who stands to serve four years in prison for taking a kickback to let out public land, is a big deal. The Economist, "Lock up the small fry—for a start Ukraine’s anti-corruption court bares its teeth," 26 Sep. 2020

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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Time Traveler for kickback

Time Traveler

The first known use of kickback was in 1920

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Statistics for kickback

Last Updated

21 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Kickback.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for kickback


How to pronounce kick back (audio)

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.

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Nglish: Translation of kickback for Spanish Speakers

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