A slap in the face

A slap in the face is an idiom that may not be as old as you think. We will examine the meaning of the common saying a slap in the face, where it came from, and some examples of its idiomatic usage in sentences.

A slap in the face is an insult, an affront, a rebuke, or a rejection that is sudden and unexpected. For instance, an employee who has worked hard and is expecting a large pay raise but instead, receives a small pay raise, may consider the offer a slap in the face. Slapping someone in the face with one’s hand is an insult expressed physically, and a slap in the face is a phrase that may be used literally, of course. However, it is most often used in a figurative sense. The idiom a slap in the face came into use in the late 1800s.


“It just feels like a slap in the face to all of us that are overworked and tired,” Pappas said, who transferred to the COVID ICU in August, “just taking care of these patients all the time for them to act like it’s not that big of a deal or some people are still claiming that it’s fake.” (The Omaha Reader)

Saying Latinas are the real heroes of this election is a slap in the face to all the Black activists and organizers who have been voting blue and helping others register. (The Daily Free Press)

It’s one that should be viewed as a slap in the face to the 80 million Americans who voted for Biden — and to any citizen who cares about the legitimacy of American democracy going forward. (The St. Louis Post-Dispatch)