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When you're done with a first rising of bread dough, you typically will "punch down" the dough to eliminate most of the carbon dioxide bubbles that have formed in it. If the dough is used from a first rising, the finished bread won't have as much body as a punched-down dough. It's a breadmaker's Sysyphysian catharsis.

"Punching down" is also slang for verbally attacking or making a joke at the expense of someone who is below you in terms of wealth, privilege, social status, or political power. For example, a rich person making fun of the poor, a person in the majority mocking minorities, etc.

The opposite, whereby someone without status or privilege mocks someone in power, is called "punching up."

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