Green’s Dictionary of Slang

whale v.1

also wail, wail on, wale, wale on
[? SE wale, to mark the flesh with wales (weals), or a whalebone whip]

1. (US) to hit, thrash or trounce; also fig. use.

[Ire]W. Carleton ‘Battle of the Factions’ Traits and Stories of Irish Peasantry (1868) I 142: It’s the Fair day of Knockimdowney! Irish Fair play, you whale! But I’ll whale you (crack, crack, whack).
[US]J.R. Lowell Biglow Papers (1880) 46: Their masters can cuss ’em an’ kick ’em an’ wale ’em.
[US]W.C. Hall ‘Mike Hooter’s Bar Story’ Spirit of the Times 26 Jan. (N.Y.) 581: It minded me o’ David whalin’ Goliath, it did!
[US] ‘South-Western Sl.’ in Overland Monthly (CA) Aug. 128: Some boasted that one Southerner could ‘whale’ ten Yankees.
[US]M. Thompson Hoosier Mosaics 168: I recollect my floggings at school with so much aversion that I do think, if a teacher should whale one of my little ruddy-faced boys, I’d spread his (the teacher’s) nose over his face as thin as a rabbit skin!
[US](con. c.1840) ‘Mark Twain’ Huckleberry Finn 30: He used to always whale me when he was sober and could get his hands on me.
[Aus]Dead Bird (Sydney) 29 Mar. 4/1: It, is years since we listened to the shrill shriek of the ear-piercing fife or whaled [...] the spirit-stirring drum.
[UK]C. Rook Hooligan Nights 74: I’ll wail his young skin proper.
[US]H. Green Maison De Shine 205: Ef he does he gits a whalin’ an I’ll be the whaler.
[US]J. London Smoke Bellew (1926) 21: Your father was a man, every inch of him. [...] I think he’d have whaled all this musical and artistic tomfoolery out of you.
[US]R. Lardner ‘Horseshoes’ in Coll. Short Stories (1941) 261: He whales the groove ball to the fence in left center.
[US]H.C. Witwer Kid Scanlon 359: He whales Old Dobbin with the whip.
[US](con. 1890s) C.W. Willemse Behind The Green Lights 25: I whaled the nearest fellow so hard that he flew against an iron pillar.
[US]F. Swados House of Fury (1959) 114: If I catch that girl I’ll whale her.
[US]K.C. Lamott Stockade 68: It goes on down the line until somebody whales the be-jesus out of the gook.
[US]‘Iceberg Slim’ Pimp 89: I’m not in the mood to ‘whale’ the craps.
[Aus]K. Gilbert Living Black 304: If a kid smashed a window or was cheeky or vicious his uncle or aunt whaled his arse.
[US]D. Jenkins Life Its Ownself (1985) 187: Dreamer’s the guy who waled on your knee, right?
[US]J. Ellroy Silent Terror (1990) 67: If a ‘fruit jockey’ made a sexual advance toward you, ‘wail on his head’ [...] because if you didn’t ‘put him straight,’ you would acquire a ‘fruit jacket.’.
[US]A. Vachss Hard Candy (1990) 115: You started whaling on him with the gun.
[UK]Guardian 25 May [Internet] ‘He took me to the ground [...] I think he wailed on me once or twice ... He got on me and I think he hit me’.
[US]D. Winslow The Force [ebook] ‘I’ve whaled the living shit out of them. Sometimes literally’.

2. to hit (rather than beat) an object.

[US]Chicago Trib. 19 July in Fleming Unforgettable Season (1981) 129: Moran whaled a double over third base.

3. (US black/campus) to act well, to do something especially well; thus whaling n. and adj.

[US]Hepster’s Dict. 11: Whaling – Doing good.
[US]H. Simmons Corner Boy 139: If he didn’t have to cut Carl in on the profits he would really be whaling.
[US]P. Thomas Down These Mean Streets (1970) 83: The gym was whaling. The music was on wax, and it was a mambo.
[US]H.E. Roberts Third Ear n.p.: whale v. 1. to run very fast. 2. to think very clearly. 3. to have a good time; e.g. He was whalin(g) up a storm. 4. to play a musical instrument with fervor.
[US]Eble Campus Sl. Oct. 11: whale – to do extremely well at a task [...] I whaled on my econ exam!

4. (US) to attack.

[US]H. Ellison Web of the City (1983) 12: His green eyes narrowed [...] Then he whaled in.

5. to act aggressively, fast.

[US]‘Hal Ellson’ Rock 83: We really whaled that supply in the back.

In phrases

whale down (v.)

to eat furiously.

[US]F. Kohner Gidget (2001) 80: I offered the guys some of the cookies [...] they whaled them down like greedy sharks.
[US]T. Wolfe Bonfire of the Vanities 391: Ray Andriutti gave up whaling down his super-sub.
whale on (v.) (also wail on)

to beat (cit. 2000 refers to aggressive sexual intercourse).

[US]B. Hamper Rivethead (1992) 53: There’s probably no tellin’ what he’s whalin’ on today [...] Apartment walls. Cell bars. The skulls of the bewildered.
‘Willowall & ThongDaddy’ Abuse for Amy [Internet] Don jumped on top of Cherri and stuffed his prick in her cunt. He started wailing on her real hard, but quickly pulled out.
whale the — out of someone (v.)

to beat viciously.

[US]S.E. White Blazed Trail 160: ’Spose you go over and take ’em apart; what then? [...] You whale daylights out of a lot of men who probably don’t know any more about this here shooting of our dams than a hog does about a ruffled shirt.
[US]Van Loan ‘Chivalry in Carbon County’ in Score by Innings (2004) 320: We whaled the everlasting daylights out of everything between Green River and Laramie.
[US]S. Lewis Babbitt (1974) 69: If I ever catch you fighting I’ll whale the everlasting daylights out of you.
[US]Raeburn van Buren ‘Abbie an’ Slats’ [comic strip] You rude little bum! I ought to whale the daylights out of you for that!
Marion Star (OH) 28 Nov. 5/6: ‘ told him I’d whale the living daylights outen him’.
[NZ]J. Boswell Ernie and the Rest of Us 75: ‘I’ll whale the living daylights out of you,’ threatened Ernie.
[US]G.V. Higgins Digger’s Game (1981) 32: You send them round to whale the piss out of somebody.
[US]E. Torres Q&A 162: We whaled the shit out of everybody.
[US]R. Price Breaks 257: I’m whaling the crap out him now.
Asheville Citizen Times (NC) 12 Mar. 5/2: ‘You knew they were [...] going to whale the living daylights out of you’.
[US]G.V. Higgins At End of Day (2001) 74: A cop whaling the shit out of some poor-bastard minority guy.
[US]‘Jack Tunney’ Cutman [ebook] I’d already seen him [...] whale the tar out of three German sailors that thought they was gonna buffalo an old man.