what for

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what for

1. Why? For what reason? A: "You're both in deep trouble." B: "What for? We didn't do anything." A: "We'll have to stop by the grocery store on the way home." B: "What for?" A: "We need milk and eggs."
2. A scolding, rebuke, or punishment. Sometimes hyphenated. My grandmother wouldn't hesitate to give me what for when my parents weren't around. The boss is quick to give you the what for if you make even a minor mistake.
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*what for

 
1. Fig. a scolding; a stern lecture. (*Typically: get ~; give someone ~.) Billy's mother gave him what for because he didn't get home on time. I will really give you what for if you don't straighten up.
2. Why?; For what reason? Father: "I want you to clean your room." Child: "What for? It's clean enough." What did you do that for?
See also: what

what for

1. For what purpose or reason, why, as in I know you're going to England, but what for? [Mid-1700s]
2. A punishment or scolding, as in You'll get what for from Mom if she catches you smoking, or The teacher really gave Bud what for. [Colloquial; second half of 1800s]
See also: what

what for?

for what purpose or reason?: What is this tool for?What did you do that for? (= why did you do that)‘I need to see a doctor.’ ‘What for?’
See also: what

what for

1. A scolding or strong reprimand: The teacher gave the tardy student what for.
2. For what reason; why: Give the present back.—What for?
See also: what
References in periodicals archive ?
Most important, though, is the bigger context from which sacrifice must be understood - its what-for.
I read the Bible for the same reason I read Shakespeare: as a way to deepen my understanding of who I am and of what-for better and for worse--I am capable of.
If one attempts an unbiased examination of the contentious issue of wealth, one can find historic and new touch points with ethics concerning the what-in and the what-for of investing and the how of best wealth management behavior.
Showing that fatherhood suits him down to the ground, Chris Ramsey was on great form, deservedly giving a fishwifeesque heckler exactly what-for with some great comebacks and a routine about the joys of being a parent.
It was a relief to see his exasperated wife finally give him what-for in a screaming row.
In their ontic manifestation as films into the referential context of our society, these films must therefore have a what-for that is ultimately tied to a for-the-sake-of-which of Dasein.
For Orlando, these questions are personal, and center on fairly treating his sources, who are likely to give him what-for around the Thanksgiving table should he screw up.
Instead he stood in the pulpit of Immanuel Baptist Church of Skiatook, Oklahoma, and had a little break down where he gave the congregation a good what-for.
Sandy showed him what-for by rocking a sexy leather dress that made her even more of a bombshell.
Another major player is looking for action, industrial action, ready to give those darned bookies a bit of what-for and see how they like it up 'em.
I would have thought I'd feel victorious watching those snooty types get a cup of what-for, but it made me feel bad for them, embarrassed.
Wittenberg was the first excursion, with an up-close look at the cathedral door where Martin Luther gave the Vatican his what-for.
Portas waltzed through the shops giving their owners what-for in a bid to get money rolling through the tills again but failed miserably, leaving me relieved there was plenty of tennis to escape to.