haul somebody over the coals

haul (someone) over the coals

To scold, reprimand, or reprove someone severely for an error or mistake. I was hauled over the coals by my boss last week for messing up the accounting software. I know Mary messed up, but don't haul her over the coals too hard for it.
See also: coal, haul, over

haul somebody over the ˈcoals

(British English) (American English rake somebody over the ˈcoals) (informal) criticize somebody very strongly for something they have done: I was hauled over the coals for being late.This was once a form of torture (= an act of causing somebody severe pain as a punishment or to make them say something) in which a person was pulled over hot or burning pieces of coal.
See also: coal, haul, over, somebody