In Reply to: wale the tar out of you posted by RRC on May 20, 2008 at 14:51:
: : : I'm in my 60's. My Dad was born in England, was Welsh, and used the phrase, "I'm going to wail (whale) the tar out of you." Meaning either my sister or I were going to get punished if we didn't stop doing something, or if we were doing something wrong.
: : Heard that in West Virginia too.
: The spelling is wale. From Merriam Webster:
: "to mark (as the skin) with welts"
In the example given, whale is correct. Used as a transitive verb it means to thrash, to strike or hit soundly. The word has undergone some change in usage in the most recent generation, I think. I have heard the expression "whale on me," meaning, I think, to give me a whaling, or perhaps just to strike me.