give (one) (the) what for

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give (one) (the) what for

To punish, rebuke, scold, or berate one thoroughly and intensely. I told her a thousand times not to take the car without asking! Well, I'll give her what for when she gets home. The boss is quick to give you the what for if you make even a minor mistake.
See also: for, give, what
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

give someone what for

punish or scold someone severely. British informal
See also: for, give, someone, what
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

give somebody what ˈfor


ˈgive it to somebody

(British English, spoken) punish somebody severely: If you take my car again without asking me, I’ll give you what for.The manager will really give it to you when he finds out what you’ve done.
See also: for, give, somebody, what

give somebody/get what ˈfor

(British English, spoken) punish somebody/be punished, usually severely: I’ll give her what for if she does that again.If you steal any more of my apples, you’ll get what for.
See also: for, get, give, somebody, what
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

give (someone) what for, to

To give someone a scolding or harsh reprimand. This expression dates from the second half of the 1800s. For example, “If you don’t do your homework, the teacher will give you what for.” David Sedaris had it, “. . . I’d have loved to have turned around and given those two what for” (“Standing By,” New Yorker, August 9, 2010). See also dressing down.
See also: give, to, what
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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References in periodicals archive ?
She is not afraid to give him what-for, loudly cursing him this week as he - repeatedly - failed to pick up the cha cha cha.
But Clare wouldn't be afraid to give him what-for. She's fiery and I love that about her."
Maybe there's just too much hand-holding and eye-gazing.The only time my mum fixes my dad with the big stare is when she's about to give him what-for. And they've clocked up 45 years.
"I was matched against this kid who was being roared on by a bunch of skinheads, and I wasn't sure whether the safest option was to give him what-for or to get the hell out of the place fast.