• synonyms


See more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
  1. moving rapidly and smartly.
  2. quick and vigorous: a spanking pace.
  3. blowing briskly: a spanking breeze.
  4. Informal. unusually fine, great, large, etc.; remarkable; distinctive: a spanking monogram in gold embroidery.
  1. Informal. extremely, strikingly, or remarkably; very: three little girls in spanking new dresses.

Origin of spanking

1660–70; perhaps < Scandinavian; compare Danish, Norwegian spanke, Swedish spånka to strut
Related formsspank·ing·ly, adverb


verb (used with object)
  1. to strike (a person, usually a child) with the open hand, a slipper, etc., especially on the buttocks, as in punishment.
  1. a blow given in spanking; a smart or resounding slap.

Origin of spank1

First recorded in 1720–30; imitative


verb (used without object)
  1. to move rapidly, smartly, or briskly.

Origin of spank2

First recorded in 1800–10; back formation from spanking
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for spanking

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • "Spanking is too expensive nowadays," pertly added the girl, who wore her hair like a pianist.

    Painted Veils

    James Huneker

  • Hes told us about how he sailed in the Spanking Sal and lost his leg fighting pirates.

British Dictionary definitions for spanking


  1. a series of spanks, esp on the buttocks, usually as a punishment for children


adjective (prenominal)
  1. informal outstandingly fine, smart, large, etc
  2. quick and energetic; lively
  3. (esp of a breeze) fresh and brisk

Word Origin

C17: of uncertain origin. Compare Danish spanke to strut


  1. (tr) to slap or smack with the open hand, esp on the buttocks
  1. a slap or series of slaps with the flat of the hand

Word Origin

C18: probably of imitative origin


  1. (intr) to go at a quick and lively pace

Word Origin

C19: back formation from spanking ²
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for spanking


1660s, "very big or fine," later (especially of horses) "moving at a lively pace" (1738), perhaps from a Scandinavian source (cf. Danish spanke "to strut").



1727, possibly imitative of the sound of spanking. Related: Spanked; spanking. The noun is from 1785.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

  • About
  • Cookies, Terms, & Privacy
© 2018 Dictionary.com, LLC.