a. A sharp blow made with the open hand or with a flat object; a smack.
b. The sound of such a blow.
2. A sharp insult: a slap to one's pride.
v. slapped, slap·ping, slaps
1. To strike with the palm of the hand or a flat object: slapped him in the face.
2. To cause to strike forcefully and loudly: "He took a clipping from his wallet and slapped it on the bar" (Nathanael West).
3. To put or place quickly or carelessly: slapped butter on a bagel.
a. To subject to a legal obligation, such as a fine or court order: slapped him with a speeding ticket; slapped her with a lawsuit.
b. To impose (a legal obligation) on someone: The judge slapped an additional fine on the unruly defendant.
To strike or beat with the force and sound of a slap: waves slapping against the raft.
Directly and with force: drove slap into the guardrail.
To restrain or correct by emphatic censure; rebuke: "thought [he] was getting a little uppity and needed to be slapped down" (New York Times).
slap on the wrist
A nominal or token punishment.
[Middle English slappe.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
The American Heritage Dictionary Blog
Check out our blog, updated regularly, for new words and revised definitions, interesting images from the 5th edition, discussions of usage, and more.