A slap in the face

A slap in the face is an idiom that may not be as old as you think. An idiom is a commonly used word, group of words, or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. Often using descriptive imagery or metaphors, common idioms are words and phrases used in the English language in order to convey a concise idea, and are often spoken or are considered informal or conversational. English idioms can illustrate emotion more quickly than a phrase that has a literal meaning, even when the etymology or origin of the idiomatic expression is lost. An idiom is a metaphorical figure of speech, and it is understood that it is not a use of literal language. Figures of speech like an often-used metaphor have definitions and connotations that go beyond the literal meaning of the words. Mastery of the turn of phrase of an idiom, which may use slang words or other parts of speech common in American slang or British slang, is essential for the English learner. Many English as a Second Language students do not understand idiomatic expressions and idiomatic language such as hit the sack, spill the beans, let the cat out of the bag, silver lining, back to the drawing board, barking up the wrong tree, kick the bucket, hit the nail on the head, face the music, under the weather, piece of cake, when pigs fly, and raining cats and dogs, because they attempt to translate them word for word, which yields only the literal meaning. English phrases that are idioms should not be taken literally. In addition to learning vocabulary and grammar, one must understand the phrasing of the figurative language of idiomatic phrases in order to know English like a native speaker; it is helpful to maintain a list of phrases, common expressions, colloquial terms, and popular expressions to memorize that are used figuratively or idiomatically. 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)

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