(A). Sixpence. “Two-and-a-kick” = two shillings and
sixpence. (Anglo-Saxon, cicel, a bit. In Jamaica a “bit” =
sixpence, and generally it means the smallest silver coin in
circulation; thus, in America, a “bit” is fourpence. We speak of a
“It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks”
(Acts ix. 5; and xxvi. 14.) The proverb occurs in Pindar (2 Pythian Victories, v. 173), in Æschylos; (Agamemnon, 1,624),
in Euripde (Bacchæ, 791), in Terence
(Phormio, i. ii. 27), in Ovid (Tristia, book ii. 15),
etc.; but whether the reference is to an ox kicking when goaded, or a
horse when pricked with the rowels of a spur, is not certain. The
plural kentra seems to refer to more than one, and pros kentra cannot refer to a repetition of goad thrusts.
Altogether, the rowels of a spur suit the phrase better than the single
point of an ox-goad.
N.B. The Greek pros with an accusative is not = the Latin adversus, such a meaning would require a genitive case; it means in
answer to, i.e. to kick when spurred or goaded.
More kicks than ha'pence.
More abuse than profit. Called “monkey's allowance” in allusion to
monkeys led about to collect ha'pence by exhibiting “their parts.” The
poor brutes get the kicks if they do their parts in an unsatisfactory
manner, but the master gets the ha'pence collected.
Quite the kick.
Quite a dandy. The Italians call a dandy a chic. The French chic means knack, as avoir le chic, to have the knack of
doing a thing smartly.
I cocked my bat and twirled my stick,
And the girls they called me quite the kick.
George Colman the Younger.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894