Just for kicks: Definition, Meaning and Origin

Last Updated on
May 23, 2023
"Just for kicks "is a popular English idiom that conveys the idea of doing something for amusement or fun without any specific goal or purpose in mind. This idiom is often used to express casual, spontaneous, or non-serious actions that are undertaken merely for the joy or thrill they bring.
In short:

"Just for kicks" implies doing something purely for enjoyment or entertainment, with no practical or serious motive.

What Does "Just for Kicks" Mean?

The phrase "just for kicks" is used to indicate that an activity is performed solely for fun, pleasure, or excitement. It suggests a sense of casualness and a lack of seriousness about the activity. Let's dive a bit deeper into its meaning:

  • The phrase often implies spontaneity or impulsiveness, highlighting the absence of planning or preparation.
  • The activity in question usually doesn't carry any significant consequences or implications.

Related expressions include "for the heck of it," "for giggles," or "for the fun of it," all of which carry similar connotations of doing something for amusement or entertainment.

Where Does "Just for Kicks" Come From?

The idiom "just for kicks" is primarily rooted in American English, with its origins tracing back to the mid-20th century. The term "kicks" in this context refers to fun, amusement, or thrill, adding an element of excitement and spontaneity to the phrase. The use of "kick" to mean "a thrill" was particularly popular in the 1940s and 1950s, leading to its incorporation into the idiomatic expression we use today.

Early Usage

The phrase "for kicks" started appearing in American literature and periodicals around the mid-20th century. Here is an example from the 1959 novel "The Galton Case" by Ross Macdonald, where the idiom was used to describe something done purely for amusement:

"He had a lot of money, and he didn't know what to do with it. I think he turned to crime just for kicks."

—1959 novel "The Galton Case" by Ross Macdonald

10 Examples of "Just for Kicks" in Sentences

Here are some examples of how the idiom can be used:

  • Just for kicks, I decided to try a new recipe, and when my friends praised the dish, I responded with a smile, saying, 'You're most welcome!
  • "She tried the spicy food just for kicks."
  • "They joined the dance class just for kicks."
  • "I sometimes watch horror movies just for kicks."
  • "He bought the vintage car just for kicks."
  • "We played the prank just for kicks."
  • "She dyed her hair blue just for kicks."
  • He started collecting vintage vinyl records just for kicks but soon realized the words to live by that were embedded in the soulful lyrics.
  • "I read the old comic books just for kicks."
  • "He tried the new game just for kicks."

Examples of "Just for Kicks" in Pop Culture

Here are some instances of the idiom's use in popular culture:

  • The band Simple Minds has a song titled "Just for Kicks."
  • In the movie "Now You See Me," the character Henley Reeves says, "We did this just for kicks."
  • The television show "Just for Kicks" on Nickelodeon uses the idiom as its title.
  • The Rolling Stones used the phrase in their song "Can't You Hear Me Knocking" with the line, "You got me ringing just for kicks."
  • In the film "American Graffiti," a character says, "We're not causing trouble; we're just out for kicks."
  • Bob Dylan's song "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues" includes the lyrics, "I started out on burgundy but soon hit the harder stuff, everybody said they'd stand behind me when the game got rough, but the joke was on me, there was nobody even there to bluff, I'm going back to New York City, I do believe I've had enough, don't send me no more letters, no, not unless you mail them from Desolation Row."
  • The film "Just for Kicks" (2003) is a documentary about the influence of sneakers in 20th-century urban culture.
  • The phrase is used in the TV series "The Simpsons" in the episode "Bart Gets an F," when Bart says, "Let's call it, just for kicks."

Other Ways to Say "Just for Kicks" in Sentences

Here are some alternative phrases that can be used in place of "just for kicks":

  • "We decided to take a road trip just for the fun of it."
  • "She tried the spicy food out of curiosity."
  • "They joined the dance class for amusement."
  • "I sometimes watch horror movies for a thrill."
  • "He bought the vintage car for a lark."
  • "We played the prank for laughs."
  • "She dyed her hair blue on a whim."
  • "They made the funny video for giggles."
  • "I read the old comic books out of nostalgia."
  • "He tried the new game for the heck of it."
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Other Ways to Say "Just for Kicks" in Sentences

Here are some alternative phrases that can be used in place of "just for kicks":

  • "We decided to take a road trip just for the fun of it."
  • "She tried the spicy food out of curiosity."
  • "They joined the dance class for amusement."
  • "I sometimes watch horror movies for a thrill."
  • "He bought the vintage car for a lark."
  • "We played the prank for laughs."
  • "She dyed her hair blue on a whim."
  • "They made the funny video for giggles."
  • "I read the old comic books out of nostalgia."
  • "He tried the new game for the heck of it."

10 Frequently Asked Questions About "Just for Kicks"

  • What is the origin of the idiom "just for kicks"?
    The idiom "just for kicks" originated from American slang in the mid-20th century. The term 'kicks' in this context was used to refer to amusement or thrill.
  • What does "just for kicks" mean?
    The idiom "just for kicks" refers to doing something purely for enjoyment or entertainment, with no practical or serious motive.
  • Can "just for kicks" be used formally?
    While "just for kicks" is generally used in casual and informal contexts, it can also be used in more formal settings depending on the nature of the conversation or writing.
  • Can "just for kicks" be used in a negative context?
    Yes, "just for kicks" can sometimes be used negatively, implying irresponsible or thoughtless behavior done purely for amusement.
  • Can the phrase be shortened to "for kicks"?
    Yes, "for kicks" is often used interchangeably with "just for kicks" and retains the same meaning.
  • Is "just for kicks" used globally?
    Yes, while it originated in the United States, "just for kicks" is understood and used in English-speaking countries around the world.
  • Is "just for kicks" a metaphor?
    It is an idiomatic expression rather than a metaphor. It doesn't draw a direct comparison but uses the concept of "kicks" to represent fun or amusement.
  • How often is "just for kicks" used in everyday conversation?
    While its usage depends on individual speech patterns and regional dialects, "just for kicks" is a commonly understood and frequently used idiom in casual conversation.
  • Are there any synonyms for "just for kicks"?
    Yes, phrases like "for the fun of it," "out of curiosity," "for a lark," "on a whim," and "for the heck of it" can be used in a similar context.
  • Can "just for kicks" be used in written language?
    Yes, "just for kicks" can be used in written language, particularly in less formal, conversational styles of writing.

Final Thoughts About "Just for Kicks"

The idiom "just for kicks" is a colorful and expressive way to convey the idea of doing something purely for fun or enjoyment.

      • It reflects a sense of spontaneity and casualness.
      • It's a versatile idiom that can be used in a variety of contexts.
      • The idiom has been widely adopted in popular culture, further cementing its place in the English language.

As with any idiomatic expression, the key to understanding and using "just for kicks" effectively lies in familiarizing yourself with its meaning and then observing it in real-world usage.

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