give (someone) what for, to

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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. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

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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