Green’s Dictionary of Slang

larking n.

[lark v.]

1. fellatio, cunnilingus [Grose included the term in his first edn. (1785) as ‘a lascivious practice that will not bear explanation’; he omitted it from subsequent edns. It reappears in F&H, who label it ‘venery’ and define it as ‘irrumation’. Partridge, in his edition of Grose’s 3rd edn (1796), notes its absence and glosses it as ‘irrumation, cunnilingism’].

[UK]Machine 11: Selfish Letcher that does Jesuit box, / Or Huffling, Gigging, Semigigging, Larking, / Or that queer Practice, by the Cull call’d Barking.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue n.p.: Larking, a lascivious practice that will not bear explanation.
[UK]Farmer & Henley Sl. and Its Analogues.

2. fun, enjoyment; thus down to larking, the excuse offered by one who claims that they were convicted unfairly.

[UK]Egan Boxiana I 6: [note] His Lordship was fond of larking, and whenever he could not come through the piece in style, Hooper appeared as his bully.
[UK]‘Bill Truck’ Man o’ War’s Man (1843) 107: The dinners and larkings were completely knocked off.
[US]N.Y. Enquirer 27 May 2/3: ‘Larking’ Renewed, or Gentlemen, of course!
[Aus]‘A Week in Oxford’ in Bell’s Life in Sydney 25 Oct. 4/5: It was to be ‘a larking week,’ and what must be, says the Oxford logician, necessarily is.
[UK]Paul Pry 20 Nov. n.p.: When Joe H—i—s, of Upper Norwood, means to leave off his very peculiar style of ‘larking’ with the dark-eyed gipsy.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 3 June 3/2: The ‘larking’ generally consists in passing practical jokes and other annoyances upon those of the weaker sex .
[UK](con. 1840s–50s) H. Mayhew London Labour and London Poor II 325/2: There never had been seen more street ‘larking’ or street gambling among the poor lads.
[UK]J. Greenwood In Strange Company 176: ‘Do you have any trouble with them?’ I asked of the foreman. ‘Nothing worse than larking,’ he replied.
[UK]Aberdeen Jrnl 20 June 3/1: Fatal larking [...] Allsop accidentally stabbed the other, and he died.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 24 Jan. 9/2: (Which we cannot help remarking / Of these ancient fairy tales, / That the Princes then liked larkings, / Much the same as modern ‘Wales.’).
[UK]‘Walter’ My Secret Life (1966) IV 726: Either the larking pleased her, or the money (a half-crown each feel).
[Aus]Truth (Sydney) 1 Apr. 2/7: Thomas Milton [...] and Lizzie Wilson [...] for ‘larking’ in Elizabeth-street after midnight, were fined 10s.
[UK]Dundee Courier 27 Sept. 6/2: Fatal ‘Larking’ Two young men were yesterday larking on the banks of the Rivert Cart, near Glasgow, when one of them [...] ran into the water and was drowned.
[UK]Manchester Eve. News 5 Oct. 3/3: Larking With the Points [...] a thirteen-year-old boy was fined 40s for doing wilful damage on the railway line.
[UK]Dover Exp. 1 Sept. 10/4: ‘Larking’ with a Car. Miss Marjorie Harris [was] summoned at Rochester on Saturday for driving a motor car recklessly.
[UK]Aberdeen Jrnl 24 Jan. 5/5: ‘Larking’ with a rifle [...] He was larking and the gun went off.

3. (UK gay) experimenting with homosexuality.

[US]B. Rodgers Queens’ Vernacular 123: larking (Brit gay sl) dabbling in homosexuality under the guise of experimentation.