Chewed Out – Idiom, Origin & Meaning

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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.

What does it mean when you chew someone out? Sounds pretty graphic, but it’s much milder than it sounds, I promise. No, it doesn’t involve a chewing gum duel or dental wrestling match. It’s all about the metaphorical mastication of a heated rebuke. Intrigued? Let’s dive in!

Is Chew Someone Out an Idiom?

Yes, indeed, chew someone out is an idiom. Despite the vivid imagery it may conjure in your mind, you’re not literally chewing on anyone’s insides. This isn’t a horror movie here. It’s just a colorful phrase used to express the act of reprimanding or scolding someone severely.

Chewed Out Meaning Explained

Chewed Out Idiom Origin Meaning

When you chew someone out, you’re giving them a stern or harsh reprimand. Just think of a time when someone yelled at another person until they were red in the face, making the other one cower in fear.

It’s often used when someone has made a mistake, overlooked something important, or acted in a way that isn’t acceptable or correct. In other words, if you’ve messed up, you might get chewed out.

Origin and Etymology Behind Chew Someone Out

Chew someone out is an American phrase that surfaced around the time of World War II. It’s believed to originate from the military, where higher-ups would give subordinates a verbal reprimand for missteps. The phrase paints a vivid picture of the one doing the reprimanding, metaphorically chewing up the reprimanded with harsh words.

Synonyms for Chew Someone Out

Want a less graphic way to say it? No problem, I’ve got you covered with these synonyms.

  • Scold
  • Berate
  • Upbraid
  • Rebuke
  • Reprimand
  • Dress down
  • Read the riot act
  • Give a piece of one’s mind
  • Tell off
  • Reem the out

Chew Someone Out Examples in a Sentence

Chewed Out Idiom Origin Meaning 1
  • The coach chewed out the team after their embarrassing loss.
  • “If you don’t finish your project on time, the boss will chew you out,” she warned.
  • He chewed me out for forgetting our anniversary…again.
  • My teacher chewed me out in front of the whole class for not doing my homework.
  • I’d rather not chew him out, but his continuous mistakes are becoming a problem for us.
  • The lead editor chewed out the staff for not meeting the publishing deadline.
  • “If you leave your room messy again, I’m going to chew you out,” Mom threatened.
  • The sergeant chewed out the new recruit for not following orders.
  • Despite Jane’s desire to chew him out for his error, she held her tongue and chose a more constructive approach.

Don’t Get Chewed Out Over Grammar

That’s your bite-sized guide to chew someone out. Now, you can not only deftly handle any chewing out (hopefully not too often), but you can also dish it out should the need arise. But effective communication is about more than chewing and spitting; it’s also about listening and understanding. So, chew on that as we continue to explore more delicious idioms. Until next time, language fans!

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