"Alive and kicking" is an English idiom that refers to someone or something that is not only still alive but is still active. The implication with this phrase is that the subject of it may have been considered either literally or figuratively dead, but instead still has plenty of life within. This phrase is malleable enough to be stretched from its literal meaning to include descriptions of sports teams whose chances, at one point seemingly dead, are now alive and well. By most accounts, "alive and kicking" was first used and gained its popularity in America in the 19th century.
It is possible to use a phrase in the English language that has a meaning that might not seem logical if just the literal definitions of the words involved are taken into account. Such a phrase is known as an idiom, and it gets its meaning from the way it is used in a culture over time. These idioms allow a speaker to add some spice and color to his or her conversations. One particularly expressive idiom is the phrase "alive and kicking."
This idiomatic expression usually refers to someone or something that may have been forgotten about or even considered lost or defunct. The phrase acts as a contrast to this assumption. In fact, the word "kicking" makes it seems that the person or thing in question is doing more than just surviving. By contrast, the person or thing is actually still active and vigorous. As an example, someone might say, "I thought that newspaper had gone under years ago, but I found out yesterday that it's still alive and kicking."
Obviously, the most literal interpretation of the phrase would be if it referred to someone who was thought dead but was actually alive. The usage of this particular idiom is far more expansive than just that narrow reading. In fact, the phrase is often used by sportswriters and sportscasters to describe a team that has come back from a seemingly insurmountable margin. For example, consider the sentence, "The home team seemed to have no hope of winning, but, after scoring 10 points in a row, they are clearly alive and kicking."
The phrase "alive and kicking" came into vogue in the United States in the 19th century. As with many idioms, it isn't clear who coined the phrase. It is still an idiom that is used a great deal though, perhaps because of its evocative nature.