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teach someone a lesson

to get even with someone for bad behavior. John tripped me, so I punched him. That ought to teach him a lesson. That taught me a lesson. I won't do it again.
See also: lesson, teach

learn a/your lesson

to understand something because of an unpleasant experience We learned a lesson from last year's failure to reform health care. You hope that prisoners will say, “I don't want to end up back in jail again – I've learned my lesson.”
See also: learn, lesson

teach (somebody) a lesson

also teach a lesson to somebody
to show what should not be done You would think that losing her job because she took too much time off would have taught her a lesson, but it's happened again! He had this idea that the government is evil and must be taught a lesson, so he blew up a government office.
See also: lesson, teach

learn your lesson

to learn something useful about life from an unpleasant experience I'm never going to mix my drinks again - I've learnt my lesson.
See know by heart
See also: learn, lesson

teach somebody a lesson

to punish someone so that they will not behave badly again The next time she's late, go without her. That should teach her a lesson.
See also: lesson, teach

learn one's lesson

Profit from experience, especially an unhappy one. For example, From now on she'd read the instructions first; she'd learned her lesson. Also see hard way.
See also: learn, lesson

read a lecture

Also, read a lesson. Issue a reprimand, as in Dad read us a lecture after the teacher phoned and complained. The first term dates from the late 1500s, the variant from the early 1600s. Also see read the riot act; teach a lesson.
See also: lecture, read

teach a lesson

Punish in order to prevent a recurrence of bad behavior. For example, Timmy set the wastebasket on fire; that should teach him a lesson about playing with matches . This term uses lesson in the sense of "a punishment or rebuke," a usage dating from the late 1500s. Also see learn one's lesson.
See also: lesson, teach
References in classic literature ?
She got through her lessons as well as she could, and managed to escape reprimands by being a model of deportment.
After dinner, we immediately adjourned to the schoolroom: lessons recommenced, and were continued till five o'clock.
The lesson of expediency, my brethren, which I would gather from the consideration of this subject, is most strongly inculcated by humility.
The lessons taught me in this respect took such a hold upon me that at the present time, when I am at home, no matter how busy I am, I always make it a rule to read a chapter or a portion of a chapter in the morning, before beginning the work of the day.
In the afternoon we applied to lessons again: then went out again; then had tea in the schoolroom; then I dressed Mary Ann for dessert; and when she and her brother had gone down to the dining-room, I took the opportunity of beginning a letter to my dear friends at home: but the children came up before I had half completed it.
I said I'd give this beggar the lesson of his life," he murmured as he heard, even above the whir of the propeller, the shriek of the terrified Negro.
Judge Scott shook his head sadly at luncheon table, when his son narrated the lesson he had given White Fang.
I have come, sir, to give you a lesson in morality to-night," he said; and up went his right hand.
Rose liked to read aloud, and gladly gave him the chapter in "Nicholas Nickleby" where the Miss Kenwigses take their French lesson.
And out of bed he jumped, and read in his book, and now all at once he knew his whole lesson.
Clementina," she explained, "insisted upon a Welsh rabbit after her lesson.
Here stuck the great stupid boys, who, for the life of them, could never master the accidence--the objects alternately of mirth and terror to the youngsters, who were daily taking them up and laughing at them in lesson, and getting kicked by them for so doing in play-hours.
But Vassily Lukitch was thinking of nothing but the necessity of learning the grammar lesson for the teacher, who was coming at two.
Tom was hanging over his Latin grammar, moving his lips inaudibly like a strict but impatient Catholic repeating his tale of paternosters; and Philip, at the other end of the room, was busy with two volumes, with a look of contented diligence that excited Maggie's curiosity; he did not look at all as if he were learning a lesson.
When they came to recite their lessons, not one of them knew his verses perfectly, but had to be prompted all along.