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make an example of

Punish someone so as to be a warning to others, as in The teacher made an example of the boy she caught cheating, or The judge imposed a tough sentence to make an example of the car thieves. This usage is first recorded in John Wycliffe's followers' translation of the Bible (c. 1382).

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The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.