rap (one's) knuckles

(redirected from rapped their 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
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

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
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
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References in periodicals archive ?
Borrowing is no easier, but the banks have certainly become less aggressive in foreclosing on underwater homeowners, in particular since federal authorities rapped their knuckles -- and made them pay $25 billion -- over illegal or overhasty foreclosures.
Newcastle boss Sir Bobby Robson saw his side climb into the Barclaycard Premiership's top five with victory over Fulham - and then rapped their knuckles for taking their foot off the gas.
"I've rapped their knuckles. They shook hands and made up."