kickback (n.) also kick-back, c.1900 in various mechanical senses, from KICK (Cf. kick) (v.) + BACK (Cf. back) (adv.). By 1926 in a slang sense of "be forced to return pelf, pay back to victims," which was extended to illegal partial give-backs of government-set wages that were extorted from workers by employers. Hence sense of "illegal or improper payment" (1932).

Etymology dictionary. 2014.

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