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. © 2022 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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The only way to stop that from happening is to give them what-for in Durban.