What Does Alive and Kicking Mean?

Alive and Kicking Meaning

Definition: Well and healthy.

This phrase is an informal way to say that you are alive and doing well. It is sometimes used ironically to imply that you are not doing so well, but, instead, you are hanging on and going forward. It can also be used after recovering from an illness; ‘kicking’ refers to the strength it took to overcome the illness.

Origin of Alive and Kicking

Still alive and kickingThe phrase was first used by fishmongers trying to convince customers of the freshness of their goods. The phrase first started as live and kicking.

If something was live and kicking, it was obviously very fresh. The phrase has been a cliché since about 1850.

Later, in the 1960s to use it to counter the report of someone’s death. This is where the variant phrase alive and well came from.

Example of Alive and Kicking

Meaning of alive and kickingIn the modern day, people say someone is alive and kicking particularly after an illness or injury.

Here is an example between two coworkers,

Steve: I heard you got in a car accident. Is everything okay?

Joe: I am fine: still alive and kicking. My car has seen better days, though.

Steve. Was there a lot of damage?

Joe: It was completely totaled. It’s a good thing I have good insurance.

It is also used to talk about someone in old age who is still getting by but not necessarily in the best of health.

For example,

Sarah: How is your grandma doing?

Ravi: She’s all right, still alive and kicking. The surgery took a lot out of her, but she is recovering well.

Sarah: I will keep her in my prayers.

Ravi: Thank you; I will tell her that you asked about her.

More Examples

  • The Prime Minister’s chief of staff Keith Schembri “is alive and kicking” and the terminal condition reported in other sections of the media is not true, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said today. –Times of Malta
  • I ask him if he’s Karnataka’s “biggest freedom fighter”?   “No-no, there were so many stalwarts. I was a small man,” he says.  “But today, they are all dead, and I’m alive and kicking,” he laughs.” –BBC News


To imply strength and vitality, one can say one is alive and kicking. This contrasts the image of someone who is alive but weak and laying down.