from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A fancy food; a delicacy.
  • n. A trinket; a gewgaw.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A dainty or delicacy
  • n. A trinket or gewgaw

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. See kickshaws, the correct singular.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. Something fantastical or uncommon; something trifling, not otherwise named or described, or that has no particular name.
  • n. A light, unsubstantial dish, or kind of food.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. something considered choice to eat


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

By folk etymology from French quelque chose, something : quelque, some (quel, what from Latin quālis, of what kind; see quality + que, what, which, who from Vulgar Latin *que, from Latin quid, what; see quiddity) + chose, thing; see chose2.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

This definition is lacking an etymology or has an incomplete etymology. You can help Wiktionary by giving it a proper etymology.


  • Pitt would do anything to keep what he called the “French kickshaw” away.


  • Andover, knowing her, imagined that she had been refused some kickshaw, and thought no more about it.

    The Black Moth: A Romance of the XVIII Century

  • No kickshaw ditties, favourites with national enemies, but ... genuine George the Third home brewed, exhorting him (as 'my brave boys') to reduce to a smashed condition all other islands but this island, and all continents, peninsulas, isthmuses, promontories, and other geographical forms of land soever, besides sweeping the sea in all directions.

    Charles Dickens and Music

  • Then be generous -- show him the flash of a looking-glass, the flutter of a bright handkerchief, a tin whistle, or any other little kickshaw that the remembrance of a boy's pocket may suggest -- and the chances are that he will come back again, finding curiosity so richly rewarded.

    Secret of the Woods

  • I remember checking a maid because she sang some bairnly kickshaw while my mind was thus engaged; and my asperity brought about my ears the enmity of all the petticoats about the house; of which I reeked very little, but it amused Mr. Henry, who rallied me much upon our joint unpopularity.

    Persecutions Endured

  • O the little tiny kickshaw that Mither sent tae me ...

    The Complete Works of James Whitcomb Riley, Volume 10

  • The little tiny kickshaw that Mither sent tae me ....

    The Complete Works of James Whitcomb Riley, Volume 10

  • Mr. Whitelaw's notion of tea was a solid meal, which left him independent of the chances of supper, and yet open to do something in that way; in case any light kickshaw, such as liver and bacon, a boiled sheep's head, or a beef-steak pie, should present itself to his notice.

    Fenton's Quest

  • "We aren't got enough to eat in the fo'c's'le, sir, an 'we wants our proper' lowance o 'meat, instead of a lot of rotten kickshaw marmalade!"

    Afloat at Last A Sailor Boy's Log of his Life at Sea

  • "Why, you swab," said Jack in a rage, "I ain't got no such kickshaw names as them -- mine's quite different altogether, so say what you like."

    Varney the vampire; or, The feast of blood. Volume 2


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  • Usage/historical note in comment on quelquechose. Also, this:

    "Unlike his contemporary Gervase Markham, Murrell's kickshaws were not stiff omelettes but pastes of finely minced veal or lamb's kidney mixed with mutton fat, sack and rosewater, pushed into moulded pastry cases and fried--or baked and iced with rosewater and sugar."
    --Kate Colquhoun, <i>Taste: The Story of Britain Through Its Cooking</i> (NY: Bloomsbury, 2007), 133-134

    January 11, 2017

  • "Eleanor had grown up with little idea of what went on in a kitchen, but she was a quick study. By the time she became, as the Washington Post put it, "the first Housewife of the Nation," she had developed a straightforward message about her culinary goals. "I am doing away with all the kickshaws—no hothouse grapes—nothing out of season," she told a reporter who inquired about the "economy menus," and added that she intended to provide "good and well-cooked food." Few guests or family members felt that she succeeded."

    "The First Kitchen" by Laura Shapiro, in the New Yorker, November 22, 2010, p 76

    November 28, 2010

  • "For a three-course meal, according to this scheme, the first course would consist of soup, meat from the soup, and 'kickshaws' (another word for appetizers, derived from the French quelque chose, and used to denote a delicacy, fancy dish, or relish, possibly oysters, anchovies, shrimp, sardines, celery, olives, or pickles)."

    —Susan Williams, Savory Suppers and Fashionable Feasts: Dining in Victorian America (New York: Pantheon Books, 1985), 175

    May 3, 2010

  • "Cookbooks frequently recommended sardines, a canned delicacy usually imported from Europe, as a 'kickshaw' (relish) to be served during the soup course at dinner. Sardines were considered elegant enough to merit their own special serving utensils."

    —Susan Williams, Savory Suppers and Fashionable Feasts: Dining in Victorian America (New York: Pantheon Books, 1985), 111

    April 14, 2010

  • "Here in Hopperville, it’s all about somewhere else really, stretching back to bards and shamans, and closing with a sequence that features us waving there behind the county bake-off. So, who’ll vouch for this among the kickshaws? the candidates wonder, two-stepping out onto the Indian burial mound. It’s where I mainly grew up, they add, tracing out the contours of local space with a bit of it on their fronts. So we’ve been looking, good hygiene permitting, for some time now."

    John Gallaher, A Guidebook to Patch-of-Ground People

    October 23, 2009

  • Thank you, I'm here all night.

    dontcry, well yes, but I'm thinking of true or "feminine" rhymes here - since "rickshaw" has stress on the first syllable, rhymes ought to rhyme on both syllables, not just the second. Otherwise I could have pshaw, as you say, but also spore, war, and featherstonehaugh.

    May 22, 2008

  • pshaw also rhymes...

    May 22, 2008

  • Excellent, yarb!

    May 21, 2008

  • And there it is. A thing of beauty.

    May 21, 2008

  • There was a young man named Mick Shaw

    who desired a succulent kickshaw.

    He ran to the shop

    with a skip and a hop

    but was slain by a rampaging rickshaw.

    May 21, 2008

  • Now you can finally finish that poem you've been working on.

    May 21, 2008

  • Didn't know you were searching, yarb. I could have introduced you to my friend Mick Shaw!

    May 21, 2008

  • Finally a rhyme for rickshaw.

    May 21, 2008

  • A fancy dish in cookery; chiefly with contemptuous force: a fancified French 'something', not one of those good old English dishes. (From WordCraft)

    May 20, 2008