Tongue-lashing is an idiom with an uncertain origin. An idiom is a 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, is essential for the English learner. Many English as a Second Language students do not understand idiomatic expressions and idiomatic language such as in a blue moon, 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, and popular expressions to memorize that are used figuratively or idiomatically. We will examine the meaning of the idiom tongue-lashing, where it came from, and some examples of its idiomatic usage in sentences.

A tongue-lashing is reprimand, a session of harsh scolding, a verbal chiding. A tongue-lashing is verbal and is angry and emotional. If one receives a tongue-lashing, he has done something very bad. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the expression tongue-lashing is a hyphenated compound word. A hyphenated compound word is a compound that is composed of two or more words linked by hyphens. However, the term is often seen as two, separate words without a hyphen. The expression tongue-lashing came into use in the mid-1800s, but its origin is unknown. The image is of one receiving a physical beating with sharp tongue. The verb form is sometimes seen, but rarely: tongue-lash, tongue-lashed, tongue-lashes, tongue-lashing.


Although it is a huge increase from the Sh571 billion that Treasury had initially planned to borrow for the 2020/21 financial year, debt-shaming critics have spared Treasury the tongue-lashing. (The Standard)

After a harsh tongue-lashing from multiple commissioners in Spring Hope, town officials encouraged the Envirolink representatives to leave the meeting early so they could go check the cemeteries, since they were apparently too busy to do so during working hours. (The Spring Hope Enterprise)

That’s about as harsh a public tongue-lashing as Arkansans are ever going to get out of Hutchinson. (The Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette)

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