Green’s Dictionary of Slang

kickback n.1

[kick back v.1 ]

1. (US) a repercussion, usu. negative.

S.H. Adams Clarion 52: Never [...] advertise an unwilling testimonial because that kind always has a kickback.
[US]D. Hammett ‘The Golden Horseshoe’ in Continental Op (1975) 44: He will have an alibi in case there is a kickback.
[US]W.M. Raine Cool Customer 284: There isn’t going to be any kick-back on this job, is there?
[US]H. McCoy Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye in Four Novels (1983) 231: ‘Webber won’t like this,’ Mandon said. ‘To hell with what he likes,’ I said. ‘Too much chance for a kickback . . .’.
[Aus]D. Niland Shiralee 223: All the questions; there might be some kick-back.
[US]J. Thompson Pop. 1280 in Four Novels (1983) 459: As soon as [...] we’re sure there ain’t any kickbacks from them two pimps I killed.
[UK]Observer 11 July 29: No strings. No kickback.
[US]J. Fenton We Own This City 268: ‘They wonder why, when police—good cops—try and do their investigations and do their job the right way, and they get so much kickback and flak from the community’.

2. in financial or commercial contexts.

(a) (orig. US Und., also kick) a payment (prob. illegal) made to a person who has facilitated a deal, a transaction, someone’s appointment to a job etc; also attrib.

[Aus]Hamilton Spectator (Vic.) 3 July 2/3: With us ‘kick’ is a novelty, but a drug at Ballarat. The essence of this facinating game is ‘bribery,’ and, of course, ‘corruption’.
[US]D. Hammett ‘Ruffian’s Wife’ in Nightmare Town (2001) 65: If you think you’ve got a kick coming, I’ll do what’s right. You can have half of the ten thousand.
[US]Ersine Und. and Prison Sl.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn) 137: kick back A return of money.
[US]Lait & Mortimer USA Confidential 13: In some favored cases they are permitted to run some of their own operations without kickbacks.
[Aus]‘Geoffrey Tolhurst’ Flat 4 King’s Cross (1966) 117: About Johnny and the Rosebowl and the top room, and the small kickbacks that Nicky gave me.
[US]D. Pendleton Executioner (1973) 123: Payola for the deejays and kickbacks to the record shops if they sell a certain quota.
[US](con. 1949) J.G. Dunne True Confessions (1979) 57: There’s a word for that seventy-five [thousand dollars] [...] Kickback is the one I had in mind.
[US]C. Hiaasen Skin Tight 81: The secondary income derived from bribes and kickbacks was substantial.
[US]G.V. Higgins Change of Gravity [ebook] ‘Not paying him kickbacks, anything like that just giving him lots of nice presents’.
[Aus]P. Temple Black Tide (2012) [ebook] Selling information to the opposition, taking kickbacks.
[UK]K. Sampson Powder 226: We’ll put her on the guest list and make a fuss of her at the aftershow. That’s her kickback.
[US]Week (US) 29 June 6: He was only a scapegoat for a practice of accepting kickbacks that was common in the ’80s and ’90s.
[Aus]S. Maloney Sucked In 201: Gilpin channelled his kickback earnings through the accounts.
[US]T. Piccirilli Fever Kill 77: Get some kickback with smuggling over the border.
[US]D.B. Flowers Bangs 403: Joey and Brother snatched a few select diamonds for their own kick.
[Aus]C. Hammer Opal Country 291: ’He told me [...] that Topsoil had you on a lead, handing you kickbacks’.

(b) a portion of one’s profits that is handed over as ‘protection money’.

[US]J. Lait Put on the Spot 206: Kickback [...] Payment pro rata of loot.
[US]Drake & Cayton Black Metropolis 484: A ‘kickback’ of perhaps half a million dollars a year to ‘downtown’ makes the policy racket a lucrative one for the machine in power.
[US]Jess Stearn Sisters of the Night 54: These bar owners aren’t bothering with anything as obvious as kickbacks.
[US](con. 1960s) D. Goines Black Gangster (1991) 155: Roman got me giving him a kickback on all the whiskey money I pick up.
[UK]‘Derek Raymond’ He Died with His Eyes Open 97: The governor’s kick-backs for copping a deaf ’un were too big.

(c) a commission on a payment made by the payee to the customer, usu. a genteel euph. for a bribe.

F. Riesenberg Golden Gate 308: Longshoremen were finding it tougher than ever to get jobs, even through kick-backs of pay, bottles of liquor, and cigars [DA].
[US]B. Schulberg On the Waterfront (1964) 8: Pilferage, shakedowns, kickbacks, bribes, short-gangs [...] and a dozen other smart operations.
[US]R. Price Blood Brothers 195: Stony, how much kickback you get from the Greek’s today?
[US]W.T. Vollmann You Bright and Risen Angels (1988) 332: The kickback on three drinks is not going to pay her rent.
[UK]Indep. Traveller 28 Aug. 1: Recommending approved priests to tourists – in return for kickbacks.
[US](con. late 19C) C. Jeffords Shady Ladies of the Old West 🌐 Fraudulent champagne (which usually ran $1 a glass, an amount on which the girl commonly got a kickback).

(d) attrib. use of sense 2a.

[US]Mad mag. Sept. 34: A fair kickback fee is 25% of the Specialist’s regular fee.

3. (US drugs) a return to addiction despite efforts to abandon drug use.

[US]D. Maurer ‘Argot of the Und. Narcotic Addict’ Pt 1 in AS XI:2 123/1: kick-back. The addict’s almost inevitable return to narcotics after kicking the habit.
[US]Anslinger & Tompkins Traffic In Narcotics 311: kick-back. A relapse into addiction after a period of abstinence.
[US]R.R. Lingeman Drugs from A to Z (1970) 135: kickback [...] A relapse, a return to taking drugs after one has been withdrawn from them.
[US]E.E. Landy Underground Dict. (1972).

4. (US) a response.

[US]J. Ellroy ‘Stephanie’ in Destination: Morgue! (2004) 57: They issued a bulletin [...] It went out 8/24/65. [...] LAPD got kickbacks.