The idiom 'slap on the wrist' is a punishment that given which is considered less than deserved. This video explains the meaning and use of the idiom 'keep your head above water' in English. We explain how to use it with some easy examples to help you learn this idiom so you can use it in spoken and Business English.
Keep in mind that an actual slap on the wrist is a form of violence and should never be used in the workplace. In saying that, the expression a ‘slap on the wrist’ is based on the reality that if someone received a slap on to their wrist, it wouldn’t do them much harm. So, the expression means a lighter than expected course of action in a disciplinary situation. When someone says “he just got a slap on the wrist”, one should take a closer look at the emphasis put on the word ‘just’ in the sentence. When someone says “he just got a slap on the wrist”; or “all he got was a slap on the wrist”; or “he only got a slap on the wrist”, then they are making light of the punishment, and by extension pointing out that they expected a harsher punishment. This expression is popular and common in both social and professional environments.