slap on the wrist

slap on the wrist


  • to show disapproval.
  • does not have to be an actual slap, but the action suggests the person ‘slapping’ does not favour what the person getting ‘slapped’ is doing.
  • it is a weak way of showing reprimand. But the intent is on it being weak since the suggested activity is not of a very gruesome nature.
  • it is an attempt to punish without causing any pain.

Example Sentences

  1. I have to keep slapping his wrist away from the cake or there will be nothing left for the party.
  2. She slapped my wrist away from the cookie jar and has the whole thing to herself now.
  3. After he made that obnoxious speech the party high command slapped him on the wrist and the politician was back to his business. This is really not how this behaviour can be controlled.
  4. As a mother, I often have to slap on the wrist of my children to show them what they ought not to do.
  5. It’s very little very punishment for such a huge crime; I would rather call it a slap on his wrist only.
  6. Leaving Bob with warning for beating Ogy with serious injuries is even less than a slap on his wrist.


A slap was used literally as well as figuratively. A slap on the face is much harsher than on the wrist. The phrase has been in existence at least since the 1700s. The Oxford English Dictionary has had this since the year 1736.

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