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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. Use with caution due to meaning 2. Many have criticized the president's limp-wristed response to the attack, calling for him to authorize a full-fledged military strike.
2. offensive Weak and effeminate; lacking qualities typically associated with masculinity. Used in a derogatory 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, someone, 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.
Now in Number Thirteen's brief career he had known no other authority than Professor Maxon's, and so it was that when his master laid a hand upon his wrist he remained beside him while another walked away with the lovely creature he had thought his very own.
You put a lot on the flannel and do up your wrist, and I guess it will be all right in the morning.
A red-faced barrel of a boy did all the holding, one hand round the wrist, the other palm to palm, and his knees braced up against the panel.
The pinched white hand of Raffles, reddening with returning blood, and with a clot of blood upon the wrist, was craning upward and turning the key in the lock without a moment's loss.
Her grip was as strong as a man's, and her wrist pressed like an iron bar upon the Admiral's throat.
Then, as Gryphus seemed bent upon engaging in a struggle which the pain in his wrist, and shame for having allowed himself to be disarmed, would have made desperate, Cornelius took a decisive step, belaboring his jailer with the most heroic self-possession, and selecting the exact spot for every blow of the terrible cudgel.
The doctor held the thin wrist for a moment between his fingers, and let it go.
He still held her left wrist, and his face was dark with passion.
Brott dropped her wrist and turned round with an exclamation of anger.
To increase your power and distance, you need to hinge your wrists properly on the downswing.
Arthritis, repetitive strain injuries, weak or painful wrists are a few examples.
It's reserved for people who don't need their wrists for heavy daily use, and the artificial joint typically lasts 10 to 15 years.
Lean your upper body forward slightly and hold that position for 20 seconds, breathing normally; you will feel a stretch on the inside of your forearms and wrists.
Hobbits' wrists limited their ability to make and use stone tools, the scientists contend.