Spanking: what’s in a word?


spankingYesterday I had a cute email from someone who said they liked my blog and that they had been into spanking forever. They even remember looking up the word spanking in the dictionary. I wonder how many people did that.

Sometime ago, someone else said that their earliest memory was reading a book where a woman says to a girl “You’re gonna get a spanking.” She couldn’t even remember anything else, but the word stayed with her for years and she said she imagined being the girl and all the different ways she might be spanked.

Just think about that for a minute.


Why should a simple word cause such a flutter within the soul? Are there other words that have that same affect for others? Even now, with so many other associated words and phrases, nothing is as powerful as that one word.


There said it again.

On a blog somewhere I remember a woman wrote that she had no spanking fetish until she was 19. Then one day she was accused of being out late with a boy drinking. If I recall, her and her cousin were cornered in the yard by her uncle and scolded. She said she just felt like a little kid again and denied everything. Then her uncle said to them something like ‘If you are lying to me I will take down your pants and trousers and give you a spanking on the bare bottom.’

She said she blushes now every time someone says ‘pants and trousers,’ even if it is just a shop assistant in a department store. But still the biggest rush for her is the actual word spanking.

I gather she was she was wearing jeans at the time, and oh for the American majority here, pants are panties in Britain and trousers are pants. See words again. I wonder how often the eroticism is lost in translation between the use of Standard (or International English) and American English?

For instance for me the word ass conjures up images of bible stories or at best it is a mere crudity. For different reasons the word arse also troubles me, but I have used both in dialogue sometimes where it has seemed appropriate.

It reminds me of the time a story got rejected because the American editor had a different take on the phrase “going commando under her mini skirt.”

If you are wondering why I have just launched into this; I had another email from someone complaining that I sometimes seemed to avoid the S word (that’s spanking in case you missed it). Not to take issue with the guy – I really don’t – but sometimes just for readability you have to avoid repetition of certain words and phrases. Actually it is the hardest part when writing in such a narrow field.

So can a word be used too much? Spanking; there I said it again, spanking. What do you think?

22 Responses to “Spanking: what’s in a word?”

  1. 1 Old Tom

    I can remember sitting in an English lesson at school with a dictionary and looking up the word spanking so this article is spot on for me.

  2. spanking, spanking, spanking! There’s three more! lol
    spanking, spanking, spanking… ok, now I can’t stop 🙂

  3. 3 Scarlet

    There was a great piece in the New York Times (in the Style section–a column that people contribute to called Modern Love) about a woman’s journey in coming to terms with her fascination with spanking, and how she finally told her fiance. It was a couple of weeks ago. i’ll send you the link if I can find it.

  4. 4 cindy

    I would look up the same words repeatedly in the dictionary, and spanking was but one of those words. Others were strap, strapping, and thrashing. As you can imagine, I was not looking for the correct spelling.


  5. I emailed you the link.

  6. 6 Mcknight

    Spanking is a great word, it conjures up so many naughty thoughts. Use it as often as you want. Please post the NY Times Link.

  7. 7 Mark

    I suspect that use of the dictionary, like Cindy, defines someone with a real interest in spanking. We all did that.

    • 8 cindy

      How to identify a spanko: Look in her/his dictionary and see if those pages containing the words spank, strap, paddle, and cane are particularly dog-eared.

  8. I remember looking up any word having to do with spanking (my favorite of all words). I looked for movies with spanking (true grit, for one – even read the book because I could see it in print). I have learned a lot about the differences between our versions of English so the eroticism is rarely missed anymore.
    Also one of the main reasons I love this site above all others is because your stories are most oft very sweet or non-vulgar and for me that takes me back to the innocence of spanking as I see it in my head. Sometimes your girls ‘really’ get it but but even then it’s without calling her demorizing names or beating her down for no reason. Your teachers and mentors usually have the naughty girls best interest at heart which is what does it for me.
    It was so hard for those of us who knew we had this little kink and could only hope to find snipets in film or literature. Wow, things have sure changed. Now it’s all over the place but you still have to search hard for plain old spanking ( spanking, can’t say it enough) stories and pictures.
    Thanks DJ. For all you do (sorry, still have that little schoolgirl crush on you). You have given me a place, a voice, and a community.


    • 10 cindy

      I agree Keri, DJ’s blog is unique and fulfills a very special need.

      You are so right, Keri, when you say this is “all over the place.” I read in Yahoo news that Harvard, like several other top-tier universities, recently recognized a student organization devoted to this kink, although the administration says that that the recognition does not mean it condones the activity.

      There is a difference between beating the tar out of someone and spanking/punishing someone when the purpose is to help the spankee. The emphasis here is definitely not on the former. I think — at least for me — I have a pretty good idea what the genesis of the kink is for the spankee later in life. The particular mechanism however whereby the love and affection–albeit painful and humiliating–becomes eroticized is a mystery to me and may always be a mystery.


  9. I think for me much of the reason I looked up these words was an effort to make it “real” if I can put it that way. I grew up in a culture and an environment where spankings were very much a part of the landscape of childhood. But there seemed to be so many different meanings for the word and so many different words used – “beatin'”, “whippin'” (I’m from the South in USA), [person] “is gonna get it”… The meanings varied from the classic OTK, to chasing someone across the yard with a switch to holding onto someones wrist with one hand and swinging a belt against their backside with the other.

    But there was something about the controlled, “real” OTK or bent over something spanking of girls that I always wanted to see or read about. And there’s something in the clinical, formal nature of a dictionary or encyclopedia entry that gave me that sense of there being such a thing as true spanking.

    Also, in this culture the word “spanking” seemed to actually be avoided and when spoken, was spoken uncomfortably, so I always wondered if there was indeed something sexual that many felt in conjunction with the word and that made them feel a sense of shame over it.

  10. 12 Kia

    I’m mystified by my reaction to the word and the action, as this is not something I have experienced directly. Submission as a general concept is easier to understand as this has played a positive role in my life, but I am confused and amused by my attraction to this particular form of discipline. I remember looking up this and other related words in as many different dictionaries as I could find, and being even more amazed at what I could find doing the same thing on Wikipedia.

    Yet I still struggle to say, or even write, the word. It is particularly frustrating when I try to write on the subject but feel the need to dance around the word itself.

    And I have to agree with Keri- I love how the subject is handled delicately and tactfully here (or in some cases not so much, when it makes sense for the context and characters). The situation and motivation behind the punishment has more meaning for me that the word itself, but its still a very powerful word on its own.

    • 13 cindy

      Kia, I noticed that you don’t articulate the word spank/spanking even when telling us that you dance around the word. The word is indeed very important to you. cindy

      • 14 Kia

        Cindy, “important to you” sounds a lot better than “neurotic of you”- thanks for that: 🙂 I almost didn’t post the comment, thinking it sounded (and is) a little crazy.

        I did use the word in some earlier drafts- I managed to type it out just fine 😉 It didn’t feel right, though, and sounded better in synonyms.

        I like to think I’m a fairly logical person, but I’m having trouble reconciling my desire to explore and discuss this subject with my inability to describe it explicitly.

        Hoping it’s just a phase that will pass soon.

  11. 15 Ayla

    For me the interest went back as far as elementary school, although never in personal experience. I remember that our first school dictionary had a red cover & the words in large print. SPANK was in there, something I verified quickly so no one would guess what I was looking up. The way things are going at this point in my life, I should go back to the dictionary!

    • 16 cindy

      Ayla, I remember when I was in elementary school, the rumor was that the principal had a spanking machine. Although the idea frightened me it also fascinated me, and I imagined myself being spanked by the principal using the device. I was pre-pubescent and I had not yet sexualized the kink, but the kink was still present. cindy.

  12. 17 DJ

    Hi All,

    I just got back from running around this weekend and it is seems that the world has had something to say about this post. 🙂

    so many thanks – I have hardly had time to read all your comments let alone reply. Hopefully I will catch up soon. 🙂

    All the best and a happy Advent


    • 18 cindy

      I am amazed too–but perhaps should not be–by the response to DJ’s question regarding why a simple word such as spanking should cause such a flutter within the soul. The word is the embodiment of an idea and as such let’s the reader fill in the blanks. If one reader has reason to interpret the spanking as occurring when over someone’s lap seated in a chair, the word allows such an interpretation. If another reader has reason to interpret the spanking as occurring when over someone’s lap seated on a couch, the word again allows that interpretation. The use of the word does not constrain the imagery and therefore may appeal to a lot of people.

      Kia, the fact that you you post comments says you have the courage to say what is on your mind. It took a while for me to do that.

      I think one reason I took to the dictionary when I was younger, looking for and repeatedly reading the definition of spanking, thrashing, etc. was because I couldn’t talk to anyone else about it, despite my desire to do so. Reading the definition in the dictionary was as close as I was going to get. I guess you could say that the dictionary “spoke to me.” Unforunately we could not have a conversation.


  13. I was one of those kids who looked up spanking and any related words in the dictionary. I also distinctly remember some books, Little House on the Prairie comes to mind, that I read when I was younger and had spankings in them. Even now when I hear the word, especially in an unusual setting like the vanilla world, my stomach flips.

    • 20 Old Tom

      Ah well with me it was the newspapers. My mother always read trashy newspapers on Sunday afternoon (The People and The News of the World) and almost every week there was at least one story where some girl/lady had been spanked. I also remember a radio play (we didn’t get TV until I was 11) on what was then BBC Home Service with a very vivid spanking scene described in the play.

  14. I too looked up the word spanking and its synonyms. One of my favourites is “render your posterior painfully aware of the realities of the palm of my hand.” No nonsense there. And a likewise happy Advent to you.

  15. 22 cindy

    I wonder if the word for spanking in other languages has the same effect.

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