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a talking-to


a) a very hard criticism

German translation:

(give someone) a (good) talking-to = jemandem die Leviten lesen, jemanden rund machen, jemandem die Hölle heiß machen, sich jemanden zur Brust nehmen

a talking-to: approximately 440,000 hits



Sample text:

Giacchetto was given A TALKING TO at the Royalton hotel in New York by Chase executive Mitchell Blutt, who informed him that his partners wanted to distance the Fund from the Cassandra Group because clients were finding it difficult to distinguish between the two.

(adapted from Vanity Fair)

A security official sat us down and gave us A TALKING TO, we smiled and nodded, while not understanding a word of his hurried Spanish…

(adapted from The People's Guide to Mexico)

Did you know?

a talking-to (or talking to)
noun phrase

- a severe talk with someone who has done something wrong

(The Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary)


To give someone a talking-to means to criticise them, and not with just a quick "don't ever do that again” lecture. A talking to (sometimes expressed as "a good talking to” for emphasis) is long and detailed and often tortuous.

It's what you got from your mother when she found a couple of empty beer bottles under your bed when cleaning up your room.

A talking to is what you got from the teacher when you didn't hand in your homework assignment and you tried to explain this mishap with the excuse "the dog ate it”.

It's best not to respond when getting a talking to, because it usually inspires the talker to talk louder, faster and longer. To use another old expression, "just shut up and take it”.

Here are some interesting alternatives:

- to read someone the riot act

- to give someone hell

- to dress someone down

- to give someone a piece of your mind

- to jump down someone's throat

- to rake someone over the coals

- to take someone to task

- to chew someone out

- to tell someone off

SYNONYMS (single words)

admonish, bawl out, berate, castigate, chasten, chide, criticise, denounce, disparage, lecture, light into, nag, preach, ream, rebuke, recriminate, reprimand, reproach, reprobate, reprove, revile, scold, taunt, upbraid, vilify, vituperate


compliment, praise

say something like:

"That's the third time this week that an angry customer called about an incorrect invoice. Someone should give someone in accounting a good talking-to!”

Thanks to Volker for suggesting today's word!

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