Kid (Kit) Gloves – Meaning, Origin and Usage

Have you seen the expression ‘kid (kit) gloves’ somewhere in a book, movie, show or on the internet? The term is common, though a lot of people can say that they don’t know what it means and have no reference for the term. This post unpacks the meaning, proper spelling and origin of the term ‘kid gloves’.

Meaning

The saying ‘kid (kit) gloves’ is a common figurative expression that means that someone is being treated with care, or that someone is being treated with careful consideration.

The term is usually meant to imply that either the person or the issue in question is something considered extremely fragile or volatile.

The most common use of the term is used to refer to emotional issues and states where emotion runs high.

Even though the term is often used as ‘kid gloves’ this is the incorrect use of the term, and the right way to use it is to say ‘kit gloves’. This is due to the origin of the term, where gloves to handle a young fox (thus with a gentle touch) were referred to as kit gloves.

The full expression is to say that something has been handled, is handled or should be handled ‘with kit gloves’ and the meaning is that something should be handled in an appropriate, gentle manner.

The expression is most commonly used in its full form, though just the phrase ‘kit gloves’ can sometimes be enough when the context of the sentence warrants it.

Example Usage

“This is a pretty dangerous situation that you’ve gotten yourself into. You’ll have to handle everything with kit gloves, or you’re going to have a bloodbath on your hands tomorrow.”

“If you don’t want to have a fight about this, then you should make sure you go into the situation with kit gloves.”

“If you plan to take an iPhone away from your son, then you should prepare to take him on with kit gloves for the rest of the week.”

“Make sure that you handle the situation with your mother and the car with kit gloves, you don’t know how they’re going to react when you tell them you crashed it.”

Origin

The origin of the term ‘kit gloves’ can be tracked back to the early days of fox hunting, where the gloves used to handle young foxes with as much gentleness as possible (yet safety for the handler) were referred to as ‘kit gloves’.

The use of the expression to handle something ‘with kit gloves’ arose somewhere in the 1800s. The saying is likely to have spread with the rise of the printing press, and the further use of the term through travel and media.

The term ‘kit gloves’ is likely to have been corrupted to ‘kid gloves’ through repetitive, incorrect use. The term ‘kit gloves’ is correct, though the term ‘kid gloves’ is still frequently seen.

According to internet resources, the term was first introduced to the dictionary in the 1900s.

The term was first introduced to the Urban Dictionary from 2005, even though common use of the term can be traced to about 100 years before.

Phrases Similar to Kid (Kit) Gloves

  • Handle with care

Phrases Opposite to Kid (Kit) Gloves

  • N/a

What is the Correct Saying?

  • [handling something with] kid gloves

Ways People May Say Kid (Kit) Gloves Incorrectly

There are several ways in which someone can say the term ‘kit gloves’ in the wrong way, or misunderstand the meaning of the term.

The most common way in which the term can be misunderstood is by someone saying ‘kid gloves’ and not the correct use of the term as ‘kit gloves’.

Acceptable Ways to Phrase Kid (Kit) Gloves

The correct way to use the phrase ‘kit gloves’ is to say that someone (or something) should be ‘handled with kit gloves’ to say that they should be handled with care, or that a situation should be approached more carefully than usual.

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