kick the can down the road


kick the can down the road


  • to avoid dealing with a problem
  • to postpone dealing with something in the hopes that it becomes someone else’s problem
  • to leave a complicated issue for some other day
  • to avoid or delay making an important decision, normally on a regular basis
  • to ignore a problem in the hope that it will go away
  • to reschedule a final action with a temporary solution

Example Sentences

  1. I realise that the house needs to be painted but we are going to move in a few years so I am kicking the can down the road.
  2. You can’t continue to kick the can down the road. Someone will have to tell him that he is fired.
  3. It’s fine that your mom has paid your bills, but sooner or later you have to stop kicking the can down the road.
  4. It’s not a good idea to kick the can down the road and let the next generation to solve the global warming problem.
  5. Kicking the can down the road is not a solution to any problem. We need to fix it permanently.
  6. I am pretty sure that it will kick the can down the road improvement only.
  7. Robbie is willing to do what it takes to resolve the issue not just kick the can down the road.


The phrase originally refers to a game that was played during the Great Depression. Children didn’t have access to many games and had to improvise and make their own. The game was much the same as hide and seek. Except, if someone managed to elude being caught and “kicked the can” everyone who had been caught was free to go.

It is difficult to connect this game with the idea of postponing an event until it becomes someone else’s problem. This is how the phrase is most often used in political circles. It is more plausible to believe that it relates to kicking a discarded can out of sight so that picking it up becomes someone else’s problem.

The phrase has only been used since the late 1980s and there is no definitive origin.

Share your opinions2 Opinions

The expression is in the Randy Newman song, “I think it’s going to rain today.” In the song, we could interpret it as a metaphor for futility, a disassociation with the way the world is working.

‒ George Burrell March 17, 2024

You are my teacher. I am a foreigner learning English for over 60 years. But I did not know the idiom’s meaning and its history until today. Thank you much.

‒ Anonymous September 3, 2023

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