Caning is a form of corporal punishment (see that article for generalities and alternatives) consisting of a number of hits (known as “strokes” or “cuts”) with a single cane usually made of rattan, generally applied to the offender’s bare or clothed buttocks (see spanking) or hand(s) (on the palm). Application of a cane to the knuckles or the shoulders has been much less common. Caning can also be applied to the soles of the feet (foot whipping or bastinado). The size and flexibility of the cane and the mode of application, as well as the number of the strokes, vary greatly—from a couple of light strokes with a small cane across the seat of a junior schoolboy’s trousers, to 24 very hard, wounding cuts on the bare buttocks with a large, heavy, soaked rattan as a judicial punishment in south-east Asia.
The thin cane generally used for corporal punishment is not to be confused with a walking stick, sometimes also called (especially in American English) a “cane” but which is thicker and much more rigid, and more likely to be made of stronger wood than of cane.
Caning may also be a part of consensual sadomasochistic activities between adults.