slap in the face


A sharp rebuke or rebuff, as in Being criticized in front of my staff was a real slap in the face, or We thought it quite a slap in the face when they returned our letter unopened. The figurative use of this term, which can also refer to a literal blow, dates from the late 1800s.

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