Ask Difference

Spanking vs. Spank — What's the Difference?

By Fiza Rafique & Maham Liaqat — Updated on April 2, 2024
Spanking is the act of hitting the buttocks with an open hand as a form of punishment, while "spank" is the verb form, referring to the action of delivering such a hit.
Spanking vs. Spank — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Spanking and Spank


Key Differences

Spanking, as a noun, denotes a disciplinary action involving hitting the buttocks with the flat part of an open hand, typically used by some parents or guardians as a form of punishment for children. This practice is surrounded by considerable debate regarding its effectiveness and ethical implications. On the other hand, "spank" is the verb that describes the act of executing this form of punishment. It focuses on the physical action itself, without explicitly stating the context or the reasons behind it.
While spanking (noun) is often discussed in the context of disciplinary strategies within child-rearing practices, highlighting various societal and psychological perspectives, the verb "spank" simply refers to the action, without necessarily implying a disciplinary context. The discussion around spanking frequently intersects with topics of behavioral correction, child development, and legal considerations. Conversely, "spank" can be used in a broader range of contexts, not always related to punishment or discipline, and sometimes in a more casual or metaphorical sense.
The controversy surrounding spanking as a disciplinary measure revolves around concerns of potential long-term psychological effects, the risk of escalating violence, and the morality of using physical punishment. In contrast, the use of the verb "spank" in conversation or literature does not inherently engage with these complex issues, unless it is specifically being discussed in the context of child discipline.
Furthermore, spanking is subject to cultural, legal, and personal interpretation, with varying degrees of acceptance and legality around the world. Some regions have laws against physical punishment of children, reflecting a societal shift towards non-physical forms of discipline. The action of spanking (verb), while it can be performed within legal and societal guidelines, remains a contentious topic, reflecting broader debates about authority, respect, and the rights of children.

Comparison Chart


The act of hitting the buttocks with an open hand as punishment
To deliver a hit to the buttocks with an open hand


Primarily used in disciplinary contexts for children
Can be used in both disciplinary and non-disciplinary contexts

Discussion Focus

Often revolves around the ethics and effects of physical discipline
Focuses on the physical action of hitting

Legal and Societal Considerations

Subject to laws and societal views on child discipline
The action itself, which can be legal or illegal depending on context

Psychological Implications

Debated for potential long-term effects on child development
Less often discussed in terms of psychological impact, unless in disciplinary context

Compare with Definitions


A form of punishment involving hitting the buttocks.
The debate over spanking as a disciplinary tool continues.


To hit the buttocks as a punitive measure.
He decided to spank the child for misbehaving.


A method of correction using physical punishment.
Some cultures view spanking differently than others.


Execute a disciplinary action by hitting.
Parents are divided on the decision to spank.


Disciplinary action by hitting the buttocks.
Spanking is a controversial topic among parents.


Apply physical punishment through hitting.
To spank or not to spank remains a contentious question.


A punitive measure involving physical reprimand.
Research discusses the psychological effects of spanking on children.


To deliver a blow to the buttocks.
The act of spanking can have varied implications.


A practice of hitting the buttocks for discipline.
Laws around spanking vary internationally.


Engage in the act of hitting for discipline.
She pondered the consequences of deciding to spank.


Spanking is a common form of corporal punishment involving the act of striking, with either the palm of the hand or an implement, the buttocks of a person to cause them physical pain. Although the term spanking broadly encompasses the use of either the hand or implement, the use of implements can also refer to the administration of more specific types of corporal punishment such as caning, paddling and slippering.


To slap on the buttocks with a flat object or with the open hand, as for punishment.


(Informal) Exceptional of its kind; remarkable.


To move briskly or spiritedly.


Swift and vigorous
A spanking pace.


A slap on the buttocks.


Brisk and fresh
A spanking breeze.


(transitive) To soundly defeat, to trounce.


Used as an intensive
A spanking clean shirt.


(transitive) To hit very hard.


A number of slaps on the buttocks delivered in rapid succession, as for punishment.


(intransitive) To move rapidly.
The ship was really spanking along.


Present participle of spank


An instance of spanking, separately or part of a multiple blows-beating; a smack, swat, or slap.


Fast and energetic.
A spanking pace


A slapping sound, as produced by spanking.


Brisk and fresh.
A spanking breeze


To strike, as the breech, with the open hand; to slap.


An intensifier.
Brand spanking new
A spanking good time
Spanking clean
Spanking white


To move with a quick, lively step between a trot and gallop; to move quickly.


A form of physical punishment in which a beating is applied to the buttocks.
Domestic spanking is often endured over the knee (or lap), formal spanking rather applied over a contraption such as a tresle or A-frame, with or without constraints


A blow with the open hand; a slap.


An incident of such punishment, or such physical act in a non-punitive context, such as a birthday spanking.


A slap with the flat of the hand


Moving with a quick, lively pace, or capable of so doing; dashing.
Four spanking grays ready harnessed.


Give a spanking to; subject to a spanking


Large; considerable.


Very; extremely; - used especially in the phrase spanking new or brand spanking new, meaning completely new and unused.


The act of slapping on the buttocks;
He gave the brat a good spanking


Quick and energetic;
A brisk walk in the park
A lively gait
A merry chase
Traveling at a rattling rate
A snappy pace
A spanking breeze

Common Curiosities

Can spanking have psychological effects on children?

Yes, research suggests that spanking can have long-term psychological effects, including increased aggression and mental health issues.

What is spanking?

Spanking is a disciplinary action that involves hitting the buttocks with an open hand as a form of punishment.

Is spanking considered an effective form of discipline?

The effectiveness of spanking as discipline is highly debated, with concerns about its impact on child development and behavior.

How do societal views on spanking differ?

Societal views on spanking differ widely, influenced by cultural, religious, and legal factors, with some communities accepting it and others strongly opposing it.

Is spanking legal everywhere?

The legality of spanking varies by country and, in some cases, by region within countries, reflecting differing views on child discipline.

What are the arguments against spanking?

Arguments against spanking include potential harm to the child's psychological well-being, ineffective long-term discipline, and the promotion of violence as a solution to problems.

Has the use of spanking declined?

Yes, the use of spanking has declined in many parts of the world due to increased awareness of its potential harm and the promotion of alternative disciplinary methods.

Can spanking affect the parent-child relationship?

Yes, spanking can affect the parent-child relationship, potentially leading to fear, resentment, and a breakdown in communication.

What does it mean to spank?

To spank means to deliver a hit to the buttocks with the flat part of an open hand, often used as punishment.

Can spanking be used outside of a disciplinary context?

While typically associated with discipline, the term "spank" can be used metaphorically or in different contexts not related to punishment.

What role does the law play in regulating spanking?

The law plays a significant role in regulating spanking, with some jurisdictions banning it outright and others setting specific conditions under which it is permitted.

What are alternatives to spanking?

Alternatives to spanking include time-outs, positive reinforcement, and setting clear, consistent rules and consequences.

Is there a difference between spanking and physical abuse?

Yes, there is a legal and ethical difference between spanking and physical abuse, though the line can be blurred, and both are subject to legal scrutiny in many jurisdictions.

How do experts recommend addressing bad behavior if not spanking?

Experts recommend addressing bad behavior with non-physical disciplinary methods, such as communication, understanding the root causes of behavior, and teaching problem-solving skills.

Do all cultures view spanking the same way?

No, cultural perspectives on spanking vary significantly, with some viewing it as a normal part of child-rearing and others as unacceptable.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Fiza Rafique
Fiza Rafique is a skilled content writer at, where she meticulously refines and enhances written pieces. Drawing from her vast editorial expertise, Fiza ensures clarity, accuracy, and precision in every article. Passionate about language, she continually seeks to elevate the quality of content for readers worldwide.
Co-written by
Maham Liaqat

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