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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