Popular in the 80s and early 90s in Black-American culture, but I doubt it made it into many books so we may be at a loss.

The meaning, quite visual, is walking into someone's house and banging all the pots and pans and making such a huge racket that it startles and disturbs the homeowner to distraction. It's simply a more colorful way of saying getting into someone's head.

Often used in sports. Like before a boxing match with trash-talk, or the stare-down. There are numerous ways for me to “get all up in your kitchen” if we are to do battle.

But there are also countless ways to phrase it, so I find it hard to search for a specific idiom when it's more about a series of uses where kitchen=head/mind. But it's always about gamesmanship.

I don't suppose there can still be some understanding of when this form was first used, or if there is some other idiom that sired it.

For example, I always thought “gat”, as slang for gun, originated similarly in the 1980s, but then I saw various 1930s gangster movies that used the term. (Gatling gun; at one point gangster slang for all guns.) I'm curious if this kitchen business is likewise long and storied.

  • 1
    Never heard it. But then I'm not black, and I haven't absorbed any "culture" since about 1975.
    – Hot Licks
    Jan 3, 2016 at 20:45
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    Is there a slang dictionary someone could check?
    – Mitch
    Jan 3, 2016 at 20:51
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    (But there are expressions from way back, such as "coming to the kitchen door", meaning to forgo formalities and act like a close neighbor, even if you aren't one. And a number of other idioms that use "kitchen", such as "kitchen cabinet" (informal group of advisers). And also there's the famous "kitchen debate" between Nixon and Khrushchev. Hard to guess how any of these might have twisted over time.)
    – Hot Licks
    Jan 3, 2016 at 20:52
  • @HotLicks The "kitchen debate" was so-called because it took place in a kitchen, the one in a model house the US built in Moscow as part of a propaganda exchange in 1959. Did this give rise to any metaphoric use?
    – deadrat
    Jan 3, 2016 at 22:27
  • @deadrat - I can recall some metaphoric references at the time -- other informal meetings being referred to as "kitchen debates", etc. I've no idea whether anything persisted from that, though.
    – Hot Licks
    Jan 3, 2016 at 22:30

1 Answer 1


The Historical Dictionary of American Slang quotes the 1989 edition of Paul Dickson's Baseball Dictionary for the definition of kitchen:

The area of a batter's torso inside or at edge of the high and inside portion of the strike zone....

This is the target area for a brushback pitch, one intended to force batters away from the plate. The pitch is not intended to hit the batter but to be close enough to force batters away from space they've claimed as their own, space metaphorically like their own kitchen. The HDAS goes on to state

The term is used in more elaborate metaphors: "He got in his kitchen and broke a few dishes."

A brief search in references and the google does not reveal whether this is the origin of the "trash talk."

  • You have the perfect sports example, except your boy Paul didn't understand what kitchen is at all. A brush-back pitch indeed does get into a batter's 'kitchen', but it's his head, not a part of the strike zone. (Hitting the batter is a better example! It gets into every opponents' 'kitchen'.) A very important part of the game. Thank you for the reference. I'll probably select it but will keep open for a bit.
    – Larry
    Jan 3, 2016 at 23:12
  • @Larry I hate and avoid baseball almost as much as I hate and avoid Harry Potter, so I'm not much of a judge. From my reading, Paul's definition extends the kitchen to just outside the strike zone. Wikipedia says the aim is for the batter's hands. Just eight guys standing around in a field hoping a ninth does his job so they don't have to do theirs.
    – deadrat
    Jan 3, 2016 at 23:37
  • I feel the same way about soccer and Dan Brown. (Edit 1: “...Paul didn't [seem to] understand.” Edit 2: “...not an [extended] part of the strike zone.”)
    – Larry
    Jan 4, 2016 at 0:05

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