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slap on the wrist

A mild punishment or warning. Bill hasn't been late to school that many times, so just give him a slap on the wrist for his tardiness. Most people are outraged that the corporation only received a slap on the wrist after breaking so many regulations.
See also: on, slap, wrist


1. Weak; lacking force or conviction. Many have criticized the president's limp-wristed response to the attack, calling for him to authorize a full-fledged military strike.
2. (usually of a man) Weak; effeminate; lacking qualities typically associated with masculinity. (Often used in a pejorative way to imply that a man is homosexual.) He was at first dismissed out of hand by many as just a limp-wristed fop, but he proved himself to be one of the toughest litigators in the country.

*slap on the wrist

1. Lit. a hit on the wrist as a mild punishment for putting one's hands where they shouldn't be or taking something. (*Typically: get ~; give someone ~.) When Billy tried to grab another cookie, he got a slap on the wrist.
2. Fig. to get a light punishment (for doing something wrong). (*Typically: get ~; give some-one ~.) He created quite a disturbance, but he only got a slap on the wrist from the judge. I thought I'd get a slap on the wrist for speeding, but I got fined $500.
See also: on, slap, wrist

slap someone on the wrist

 and slap someone's wrist 
1. Lit. to strike someone's wrist with the open hand, as a punishment. Aunt Maude slapped Tony on the wrist when he grabbed a couple of her freshly baked cookies. Tony was slapped on the wrist when he tried to swipe some cookies.
2. Fig. to administer only the mildest of punishments to someone. The judge did nothing but slap the mugger on the wrist.
See also: on, slap, wrist

slap on the wrist

A mild reproof, as in We were fined heavily, and all she got from the judge was a slap on the wrist. [Early 1900s]
See also: on, slap, wrist

a slap on the wrist

A slap on the wrist is a small punishment or occasion when someone is told they have done something wrong. She was given a small fine — a slap on the wrist really. But other than a few slaps on the wrist, the General went unpunished.
See also: on, slap, wrist

slap on the wrist

a mild reprimand or punishment.
1997 New Scientist Last week, in a Washington district court, [a judge] ordered software giant Microsoft to stop forcing PC-makers to install both Windows 95 and its Web browser, Internet Explorer. So far, though, it is just a slap on the wrist.
See also: on, slap, wrist

a slap on the ˈwrist

(informal) a small punishment or warning: I got a slap on the wrist from my secretary today for leaving the office so untidy.
See also: on, slap, wrist

kick in the wrist

n. a drink of liquor. You want another kick in the wrist?
See also: kick, wrist

slap someone’s wrist

and slap someone on the wrist
tv. to administer a minor reprimand. The courts only slap them on the wrist and send them back out on the streets.
See also: slap, wrist

slap someone on the wrist

See also: on, slap, wrist

slap on the wrist

A nominal or token punishment.
See also: on, slap, wrist
References in classic literature ?
Fortunately, I had not stayed by the job long enough to injure myself--though I was compelled to wear straps on my wrists for a year afterward.
My wrist was released, but his other arm, passed around my back, held both my arms so that I could not move.
Hines let out a whoop, like everybody else, and dropped my wrist and give a big surge to bust his way in and get a look, and the way I lit out and shinned for the road in the dark there ain't nobody can tell.
Suddenly that native rose at the bedside, and bent over me with his right hand lifted and a dirk in it aimed at my throat; but Luigi grabbed his wrist, pulled him downward, and drove his own knife into the man's neck.
So saying, she wiped the ichor from the wrist of her daughter with both hands, whereon the pain left her, and her hand was healed.
Instantly the grasp upon her wrist relaxed as the body, no longer controlled by the brain of Ghek, stumbled aimlessly about for an instant before it sank to its knees and then rolled over on its back; but Tara of Helium waited not to note the full results of her act.
With a bound he was upon his feet and at the same instant brought his other gun from his side and levelled it upon the man who had released him; but as his finger tightened upon the trigger Virginia Maxon sprang between them and grasping von Horn's wrist deflected the muzzle of the gun just as the cartridge exploded.
Trent swung him out of the way - a single contemptuous turn of the wrist, and Da Souza reeled against the mantelpiece.
Garn out o' this or I'll " He took a step forward with uplifted hand, but in an instant down came cut number three upon his wrist, and cut number five across his thigh, and cut number one full in the center of his rabbit-skin cap.
Saying this, Gryphus in his frenzy rushed towards Cornelius, who had barely time to retreat behind his table to avoid the first thrust; but as Gryphus continued, with horrid threats, to brandish his huge knife, and as, although out of the reach of his weapon, yet, as long as it remained in the madman's hand, the ruffian might fling it at him, Cornelius lost no time, and availing himself of the stick, which he held tight under his arm, dealt the jailer a vigorous blow on the wrist of that hand which held the knife.
I did n't mean to," muttered Tom, as he hastily departed, leaving Polly to groan over her sprained wrist.
A HUNTER who had lassoed a Bear was trying to disengage himself from the rope, but the slip-knot about his wrist would not yield, for the Bear was all the time pulling in the slack with his paws.
Lycomedes too is in the picture with a wound in the wrist, and Lescheos says he was so wounded by Agenor.
She felt his forehead, altered a bandage for a moment, and took his wrist between her fingers.
Two officers appeared at the entrance-door: one, a young fellow, with a feeble, delicate face, who had lately joined the regiment from the Corps of Pages; the other, a plump, elderly officer, with a bracelet on his wrist, and little eyes, lost in fat.