haul (someone) over the coals

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haul (someone) over the coals

To scold, reprimand, or reprove someone severely for an error or mistake. I was hauled over the coals by my boss last week for messing up the accounting software. I know Mary messed up, but don't haul her over the coals too hard for it.
See also: coal, haul, over

haul someone over the coals

BRITISH or

rake someone over the coals

If a person, especially someone in authority, hauls someone over the coals or rakes someone over the coals, they speak to them very severely about something foolish or wrong that they have done. Lewis was hauled over the coals by English football authorities over his conduct in the match. Taylor was hauled over the coals for wasting police time. She was raked over the coals by an opponent who compared her to a convicted tax evader. Note: This expression may refer to a practice in medieval times of deciding whether or not someone was guilty of heresy, or saying things which disagreed with the teachings of the Church. The person accused of heresy was dragged over burning coals. If they burned to death they were considered guilty, but if they survived, they were considered innocent.
See also: coal, haul, over

haul someone over the coals

reprimand someone severely.
This expression originated in a form of torture that involved dragging the victim over the coals of a slow fire.
See also: coal, haul, over