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kick-start • v. [tr.] start (an engine on a motorcycle) with a downward thrust of a pedal. ∎ fig. provide the initial impetus to: they need to kick-start the economy.• n. (also kick start or kick starter) a device to start an engine by the downward thrust of a pedal, as in older motorcycles. ∎  an act of starting an engine in this way. ∎ fig. an impetus given to get a process or thing started or restarted: new investment will provide the kick-start needed to escape from recession.