get knuckles rapped
get (one's) knuckles rapped
1. Literally, to receive a smack on the knuckles as a punishment for misbehavior. Typically used in reference to children. You'll get your knuckles rapped by the teacher if you keep speaking out of turn.
2. By extension, to receive a warning, verbal scolding, or a minor punishment. The public was outraged that the CEO merely got his knuckles rapped for his company's illegal actions. I got my knuckles rapped by the boss for coming in late on Friday.
get one's knuckles rapped
1. Lit. to get one's knuckles struck with a ruler as a punishment. I got my knuckles rapped for whispering too much. You will have your knuckles rapped if you are not careful.
2. Fig. to receive a minor punishment. The lawyer got his knuckles rapped for talking back to the judge. Better watch your tongue if you don't want to get your knuckles rapped.