A Slap In The Face – Meaning & Examples

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| Candace Osmond

| Idiom

Photo of author

Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond studied Advanced Writing & Editing Essentials at MHC. She’s been an International and USA TODAY Bestselling Author for over a decade. And she’s worked as an Editor for several mid-sized publications. Candace has a keen eye for content editing and a high degree of expertise in Fiction.

Have you ever been so humiliated because someone unexpectedly insulted your hard work? An excellent way to describe this feeling is a slap in the face.

In this short guide, I’ll show you the definition of the idiomatic expression, a slap in the face. I also provide simple examples of how to use it in a sentence.

“Slap in the Face” Meaning

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A slap in the face is an idiomatic expression because we use its figurative definition instead of the literal one. It refers to a situation where someone upsets you by insulting you or appearing to reject you.

This phrase is usually used when the insult comes as a surprise. The disappointment, betrayal, or humiliation you feel is so terrible that it feels like a physical slap in the face.

Consider this example. Your best friend of ten years didn’t invite you to her wedding because she wants it to be intimate and only include “a few close friends.” The fact that she does not consider you as one of her close friends can be a slap in the face.

Synonyms of “A Slap in the Face”

Here are some synonyms for a slap in the face:

  • Rebuff
  • Rejection
  • Snub
  • Insult
  • Affront
  • Put-down
  • Humiliation
  • Indignity
  • Provocation
  • Slight
  • Abuse
  • Brickbat
  • Injury
  • Backhanded compliment
  • Vexation
  • Outrage

Is “A Slap on the Face” Correct?

A slap in the face vs. A slap on the face Ngram
A slap in the face vs. A slap on the face usage trend.

A slap on the face is an incorrect phrase. The accurate preposition to use is in instead of on. Therefore, the correct term is a slap in the face.

Using the Phrase “Slap in the Face” in a Sentence

  • Having readers pirate my book after I spent a year writing it feels like a slap in the face.
  • When my kids complain, they didn’t get enough for Christmas feels like a slap in the face.
  • When he was passed over for the promotion, it was like a hard slap in the face after all his hard work.
  • The team’s defeat was a slap in the face to the coach and players who had worked so hard to win.
  • She felt that the criticism was a slap in the face, considering all the effort she had put into the project.
  • The rejection letter was a slap in the face to the young artist, who had put so much time and energy into her application.
  • The way he talked down to her was a slap in the face; she couldn’t believe someone could be so rude.
  • It turns out, the best way to get that coveted lifted look is just a good slap in the face. Of course, a “slap” from McLeod is not your run-of-the-mill slap. (Glamour)

  • Sinn Fein MLA Padraig Delargy said it was a “slap in the face” to the staff who support local families in the area. (Belfast Telegraph)

Learn More Idiomatic Expressions

Having many idioms in your vocabulary allows you to be more creative and original in expressing your emotions.

Slap in the face is one of the many idiomatic expressions you can use in different contexts. Use it when referring to sudden rejection, insult, or humiliation. So instead of saying, “I feel insulted,” say, “It feels like a slap in the face.”

Enjoyed reading about this idiom? Check out some others we covered: