rap (one) on the knuckles

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rap (one) on the knuckles

1. Literally, to smack someone, especially a child, on the knuckles as a punishment for misbehavior. The teacher was fired for rapping students on the knuckles when they spoke out of turn.
2. By extension, to give someone a warning, verbal scolding, or a minor punishment. The public was outraged that the government merely rapped the company on the knuckles for illegally dumping chemicals in the river. The boss rapped my knuckles for coming in late on Friday.
See also: knuckle, on, rap

rap on the knuckles

A quick, minor punishment intended to serve as a warning. The public was outraged that the company only received a rap on the knuckles from the regulatory agency after being caught illegally dumping chemicals in the river.
See also: knuckle, on, rap

rap someone on the knuckles

or

rap someone's knuckles

COMMON If someone in authority raps you on the knuckles or raps your knuckles, they criticize you for doing something they consider to be wrong. I was rapped on the knuckles for interfering in things that were not my concern. Note: People often use over instead of on. The report raps teachers over the knuckles for not appearing to have any influence over children at all. Note: You can also say that you have your knuckles rapped, or that you get a rap on the knuckles. The station has had its knuckles rapped for the third time by the Radio Authority. The club yesterday received a rap on the knuckles from the Football Association. Note: In the past, teachers sometimes punished pupils who behaved badly by hitting them on the knuckles with a ruler or stick.
See also: knuckle, on, rap, someone

rap someone on (or over) the knuckles

rebuke or criticize someone.
See also: knuckle, on, rap, someone