Posted by Annette aubree on February 25, 2005
I understand "a lick and a promise" differently. Not having anything to do with "cursory washing by children"
More like when you don't have time to do something right but you get it done "good enough for now" and then promise to do it right later.
My grandmother used the phrase when neighbors were coming to visit and she was trying to get the house clean on short notice. Wiping the bathroom floor with a paper towel, she told me she was giving the floor a lick and a promise--a quick lick now and a promise to do it right later.