lick·​ing ˈli-kiŋ How to pronounce licking (audio)
: a sound thrashing : drubbing
: defeat

Example Sentences

His father threatened to give him a licking if he didn't stop misbehaving. our team took a licking last night, but we'll get them next time
Recent Examples on the Web After taking a licking in 2022, Republicans once again failed to respond with soul-searching about losing the youth vote. Jason Linkins, The New Republic, 15 Apr. 2023 John Wick may appear to be indestructible, a ruthless assassin who takes a licking and keeps on killing. Josh Rottenberg, Los Angeles Times, 27 Mar. 2023 Probably the same approach could be used to create a comic licking room. Corey S Powell, Discover Magazine, 24 Oct. 2014 Allergies can cause excessive licking, which can lead to a build-up of bacteria on the skin. Amber Smith, Discover Magazine, 17 Oct. 2022 There is still a lot of licking. Blair Braverman, Outside Online, 16 July 2021 No licking! Dan Carson, Houston Chronicle, 24 June 2020 There were variations on the theme—sometimes Alice deliberately set the dog on Bethany, sometimes the police investigation loomed larger in the plot—but what remained constant was the licking of the hand at night, the ghostly scrape of a dead tongue across your palm. Nell Stevens, The New Yorker, 15 Oct. 2022 Many have chapped lips, from nervous licking. Maxim Osipov, The Atlantic, 16 May 2022 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'licking.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1756, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of licking was in 1756

Dictionary Entries Near licking

Cite this Entry

“Licking.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 10 Jun. 2023.

Geographical Definition


geographical name

Lick·​ing ˈli-kiŋ How to pronounce Licking (audio)
river 320 miles (515 kilometers) long in northeastern Kentucky flowing northwest into the Ohio River

More from Merriam-Webster on licking

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