Kick the can down the road

Kick the can down the road, a ubiquitous phrase in American politics over the last few years, is not a reference to the game of kick the can. It refers to the practice of kicking a can ahead of oneself while walking along a road. So, metaphorically, the phrase means to defer conclusive action with a short-term solution.

These examples contain quotes from politicians:  

Hancock has vowed that his administration won’t continue to “kick the can down the road.” [Denver Post]

“Members are overwhelmingly disappointed in the Senate’s decision to just ‘kick the can down the road’ for two months,” the aide said. [Washington Post]

We can’t kick the can down the road because we’ve run out of road. [Rahm Emanuel quoted in New York Times]

These writers also find the phrase useful:

The more they kick the can down the road, the worse the eventual correction will be. [New York Times]

Is it the tendency, demonstrated again over the weekend and into this week to kick the can down the road? [The Atlantic]

With that, I must go forward and kick the can down the road into the brave new year. [Las Vegas Review-Journal]

Incidentally, we initially thought kick the can down the road was a nonsensical phrase because the game of kick the can usually does not involve a road. That Las Vegas Review-Journal article showed the light.

About Grammarist
Contact | Privacy policy | Home
© Copyright 2009-2014 Grammarist