rap (one's) knuckles

(redirected from rap knuckles)

rap (one's) knuckles

1. Literally, to smack someone, especially a child, on the knuckles as a punishment for misbehavior. The teacher was fired for rapping students' 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's knuckles for illegally dumping chemicals in the river. The boss rapped my knuckles for coming in late on Friday.
See also: knuckle, rap

rap someone's knuckles

Reprimand, as in If I'd seen John take that last piece of cake, I'd have rapped his knuckles. This term transfers a physical punishment to a verbal one. [Late 1600s]
See also: knuckle, rap
References in periodicals archive ?
Or will they cower in the face of the big boys and merely rap knuckles, fearful that cushy jobs will be lost and expensive law suits filed.
Does it not say something about law and order generally in Ulster, when these so-called reps are called in to rap knuckles in a simple case of out and out thuggery?