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teach a lesson

Punish in order to prevent a recurrence of bad behavior. For example, Timmy set the wastebasket on fire; that should teach him a lesson about playing with matches. This term uses lesson in the sense of “a punishment or rebuke,” a usage dating from the late 1500s. Also see learn one's lesson.

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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.

Related Words

discipline, incarcerate, harm, dismiss, expel, sentence, chastise, execute, hurt, abuse, fine, correct, spank, paddle, castigate, exile, reprove, whip, injure, debar