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  • Writer's pictureSweet Tea

The Origin of the Word “Spanking”

For fetishists like me, all forms of the word “spanking” are a source of great interest and titillation. They captivate our attention and send our imaginations reeling. But where did the word come from in the first place? 🤔

My nerdy ass majored in linguistics in college and I did a bit of internet digging to sate my curiosity. Before I share my findings, let’s review the definitions of spanking’s parts of speech for shits and giggles, shall we?


a spanking: a form of physical punishment in which a beating is applied to the buttocks; an incident of such punishment, or such a physical act in a non-punitive context, such as a birthday spanking

You’re getting a spanking for that little display when we get home.

I want him to give me a spanking, but I’m too shy to tell him.

a spank: an instance of spanking, separately or part of a multiple blows-beating; a smack, swat, or slap

She gave him a spank and told him to wait for her in the car.

a spanko: a person with a fetish for spanking, usually but not exclusively sexual; ME!

He doesn’t just swat butts to spice things up in bed. Dude’s a fucking true-blue spanko.

Sweet Tea? Oh yeah, that chick’s a total spanko.

a spanker: someone who spanks; an instrument used to give someone a spanking, such as a paddle; (nautical) a fore-and-aft gaff-rigged sail on the aft-most mast or a square-rigged vessel

My spanker is a very handsome man.

This spanker costs $49 online. T’ain’t cheap.

Hoist the spanker and let’s claim the seven seas! (Or whatever boat people say.)

a spankee: a receiver or victim of a spanking

My spankee makes the most beautiful sounds while she’s over my knee.

a spankophile: (informal) one who derives sexual pleasure from spanking or being spanked

I went through your search history. GodDAMN, you’re a spankophile!

spankies: full underpants worn by cheerleaders, color-coordinated as part of a matching outfit and designed to be seen under their skirts

The team wore red, white, and blue spankies for the Independence Day parade.


to spank: to strike forcefully with the open hand, especially on the buttocks

My husband spanked me and it hurt, but I loved it.

Can't read the word "buttocks" anymore without thinking of Forrest's war wound.


spanking: remarkable of its kind; fresh and strong

What a spanking pair of spectacles! Where on earth did you buy them, Bartholomew?

With this spanking wind at our sails, we’ll reach the port in no time!

spankworthy: (colloquial) worthy of being spanked

Getting fired for reading Sweet Tea’s blog at work is a spankworthy offense in this house, Sir.

spankable: suitable for spanking

Madam, yours may be the most spankable bottom I’ve ever laid eyes upon.


spanking: very

I didn’t buy the car used. It’s brand spanking new!

spankingly: in a spanking manner; vigorously; freshly

I told him I was feeling frisky and he got here spankingly fast.

What wonderful words!

Anyway, back to the issue of origin. I always figured “spank” was an onomatopoeia⁠—a word formed in imitation of the sound of the thing it signifies. It certainly imitates the sound of cheeky buns being smacked.

Can you hear it? I sure can.

However, now that I’ve done some research, I’m not entirely sure! According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, the “very big or fine” adjective version came first in the 1660s. Next came the corporal-punishment verb version in 1727, followed by the related noun “a spanking” in 1785 (or 1854, depending on which part of this page you read 🤪).

How the adjective came to be is uncertain, but may have been derived from a Scandinavian source. The Danish word, “spanke” apparently means, “to strut.” Spanke your fine ass down the block when you’re feeling sexy, you hot mess! The word “spanker” apparently also meant, “something striking” in terms of size, appearance, etc.

If this is all true, it means old-timey people were walking around using our favorite word in rather unexpected ways throughout the 17th and early 18th centuries. Catch a time machine back to that era and who knows what you’d hear in the town square.

“‘Tis a spanking building indeed!”

“They sighted a spanking whale in the bay!”

“That dress is downright spanking, Madam.”


While we’re here, let’s mine a couple other internet resources for linguistic spanko gold.

First, there’s the Google Ngram Viewer, which shows how certain words and phrases have occurred in a corpus of books over a period of selected years.

It looks like spanking wasn’t mentioned in books all that much until the 1900s, peaking in 2014. I blame the explosion of mentions on the 50 Shades books, published in 2011 and 2012, along with the increased demand for kinky erotica that came in their wake.

Prior to the 20th century, it may be the case that other words with similar meaning were commonly used instead. Take the word “whipping,” for instance.

Google Trends is interesting too. The “Interest over time” numbers represent search interest relative to the highest point on the chart for the given region and time. A value of 100 is the peak popularity for the term.

The furthest back you can go is 2004. Looks like that’s when Google searches for “spanking” were at their highest. I guess we all went online ASAP to look up what the internet had to offer and have settled into jumping straight to our favorite spanko sites since then, eliminating the need to search for “spanking,” specifically. Maybe? Who knows.

That’s enough spanko word-nerdery for now. I challenge you all to go out into the world and revive the original definition of the word in the spirit of tradition. 🧐

“What a spanking home you have here, Mary! Thanks so much for having us over for dinner.”

Nite, weirdos. xoxo




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