Posted by James Briggs on August 22, 2004
In Reply to: I'm going to lick you! posted by Lotg (OZ) on August 22, 2004
: : : : : Stranmge that an expression using an oral term like this would mean an intent to do someone harm. When did 'lick' take on a meaning of agressiveness.
: : : : I've never heard this exact phrase, but "to lick" meaning to beat or thrash was seen in print no later than 1535 (OED). A "lick" meaning a "smart blow," 16768. To give someone a licking (i.e., a thrashing), 1856. SS
: : : I beg your pardon, (and that of the OED) I meant 1678. SS
: : I'll do some research and see what I can find. I do recall on some animal channel seeing a lion lick a dead deer and the narrator said that was common. Creepy and strange.
: I always understood a 'licking' to mean a 'lashing'. A lick of the whip being a term with which I'm familiar - but no ACME, not personally - hehe.
I wonder if this relates to 'licking into shape'?
To lick into shape is to make someone, or something, fit for a particular task. Olden belief had it that bear-cubs were born as shapeless masses of fur and flesh and had to be licked into shape by the mother.
Thus, if you 'give someone a licking', then you be bringing them into a shape to suit you.