Words: slapping, adj.

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The Independent Online
"TODAY I had a slapping walk." One might think this a Bright Young Thing's remark, not that of the cerebral poet Wallace Stevens when writing to his wife in 1912. The OED omits its survival in America this century, but notes the two 19th-century usages: large and fast. In each case, this refers to both men and horses, as does spanking, which goes back to the 17th century, possibly from spanke, Danish for strut.

Whether Stevens's walk from Manhattan was long, brisk, or both, he enjoyed it, and thought of the poet Comtesse Mathieu de Noailles' phrase: "J'ai le gout de l'azur", although, eight years earlier, Stevens wrote, "God! What a thing blue is! It is one of the few things left that bring tears to my eyes (or almost). It pulls at the heart."

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