I'm not surprised, it's a highly literary usage of "lick" and you need to have that sort of bent to pick up on it. I bet though if you mention "taking a licking" to your friend he'll recognize that it means receiving a beating. (Well, depending on his age: kids today would probably consider even that the sort of phrase Grandpa Simpson would use!!!)mgarizona : that is weird, when I talked about that passage to an American friend, he also thought it had to do with tongues. Then I guess it'll be easier to translate with your remark, thank you !