1. Slang phrasal verb meaning to be reprimanded or scolded with the connotation that the person with authority was yelling. I.E. "The gang was chewed out by their leader for failing to complete the job."

Often used in conjunction with the noun "ass". I.E., "I have to go in so my boss can chew my ass out." The phrase is often split as in, "The boss was chewing them out."

Similar to the use of, "chew" or "chewed", as an adjective meaning something was really bad.

Possible Synonyms:
1. To criticize for a fault or an offense: admonish, call down, castigate, chastise, chide, dress down, lambaste, rebuke, reprimand, reproach, reprove, scold, tax, upbraid. Informal: bawl out. Slang: toss salad. Idioms: bring (or take) (or call) to task, call on the carpet, haul (or rake) over the coals, let someone have it.

Getting chewed out can happen to anyone. It can arise from a variety of social problems. From lying about who your sleeping with, to just doing something stupid like destroying your grandmother's seventy year old coffee table. It happens to almost everyone. Getting chewed out is just another one of the facts of life. You do something wrong or stupid or just downright mean, you will most likely get chewed out.

I have compiled a list of the most common reasons people get chewed out. This list was created through numerous interviews and surveys. My friends and I conducted most of the surveys in grocery store parking lots. The majority of the surveys were done in Detroit, Michigan. Keep in mind these are not all of the reasons, just the answers we received from the majority of people we surveyed. I would run out of time and brain power if I were to list them all.

Most popular answers in ages 10 through 18:
  • Injuring a sibling - 30%
  • Name calling - 30%
  • Stealing - 20% (Stealing from parents was about 65% of this one.)
  • Breaking or destroying personal property - 15%
  • Smoking cigarettes - 5%
Most popular answers in ages 19 and up:
  • Making foolish investments - 30%
  • Stealing - 25% (More than 50% of these answers went on to be a bit more specific in saying that they got chewed out for stealing money.)
  • Just being generally irresponsible (i.e. injuring themselves, or doing something that causes loss of money or property.) - 20%
  • Cheating on spouse - 15%
  • Using drugs - 10%

In the United States the military has been a source of American slang since the Revolutionary War and much of it has become increasingly embedded in popular culture. To chew means, “to bite and grind with the teeth; to masticate, as food, to prepare it for deglutition and digestion,” so it’s not too big of a leap to connect the idea of biting into something with a grinding reproach. Alternative phrases for the transitive verb can be dress down, take to task, or rake over the coals.

No doubt the phase came from across the pond because a good chewing out is hardly a new phenomenon. In Europe people were being called on the carpet since the beginning of the 19th century when a servant was said to “walk the carpet” when they were summoned before the master of the home for a tongue lashing. Even earlier than this, people were being read the Riot Act. In 1715 English magistrates were responsible for the control of unruly citizens. “If more than twelve people didn't disperse after the Riot Act was read to them the magistrate could order their arrest”and by the 1930’s judges were said to be throwing the book at disorderly citizens for breaking the law. The 1986 Public Order Act made the Riot Act obsolete, but there is some evidence to suggest that the phrase describing a verbal reprimand may have originated even earlier because the OED offers a citation from as early as 1230 for chewed used to illustrate "to worry with reproaches." Since then the formal censure or reproach of a subordinate by a superior has escalated from getting an attitude adjustment to a good bawling out.

Some say that the military may have begun bandying the phrase about as early as World War I. One etymologist cites a passage, “H.Q. is chewing out my arse why we're not flying right now," from Stephan Longstreet’s Canvas Falcons(1929). By 1948 to chew someone out had become common during World War II meaning someone was given a verbal going over as in, “The Drill Sergeant chewed him out saying he would have his guts for garters because he was nothing more than a goldbricking lollygag.” The colloquialism may have arose from Article 15, a form of non-judicial punishment from the Uniform Code of Military Justice. While it’s not a full blown court martial an Article 15 can result in consequences ranging from an apologetic response to fines or confinement in the stockade.


chew out:

Oxford English Dictionary:

MILREF: 2005 Archive of Military Definitions of the Day:

The Phrase Finder:

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