Definition of give someone what for in US English:

give someone what for

phrase

British
informal
  • Punish or scold someone severely.

    • ‘You'd best be on your best behaviour or the locals will give you what for.’
    • ‘Once, the cat got too close and she gave him what for.’
    • ‘Uri stepped in (it had been a bad afternoon for the poor guy) and gave him what for as well.’
    • ‘In Joe's office Elizabeth was giving him what for.’
    • ‘One of this days I am gonna turn around and give you what for.’
    • ‘The once quiet little girl who was mercilessly bullied at her last school was giving them what for.’
    • ‘Safely out of earshot at the far edge of the crowd, I gave her what for.’
    • ‘We gave them what for, and we can resume our action at any time.’
    • ‘It's all I can do to keep myself from going over there and giving them what for.’
    • ‘I gave him what for and told him he better not miss the funeral!’
    scold, chastise, upbraid, berate, castigate, lambaste, rebuke, reprimand, reproach, reprove, admonish, remonstrate with, lecture, criticize, censure
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