1. Informal Exceptional of its kind; remarkable.
2. Swift and vigorous: a spanking pace.
3. Brisk and fresh: a spanking breeze.
Used as an intensive: a spanking clean shirt.
A number of slaps on the buttocks delivered in rapid succession, as for punishment.
[Perhaps of Scandinavian origin.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.