give heck

bartleby75

Member
Italian
Hi,

does the expression 'give heck' mean something like 'be very angry and tell off'?
I found it in an American book where two kids are caught by their mom going 'frog spearin''...

Thanks for your help.
 
  • cropje_jnr

    Senior Member
    English - Australia
    Can we please have the full sentence?

    It could be like 'to give somebody hell', which means to be a nuisance to somebody, to give them a hard time.
     
    Last edited by a moderator:

    bartleby75

    Member
    Italian
    Sorry I was off line in the last few days.

    the context, as I mentioned, is
    an American book where two kids are going to get caught by their mom going 'frog spearin''...
    and one of them says their mother will 'give them heck'.

    That's why I thought of 'be very angry and tell off'.

    Do you confirm that?

    Thank you.
     

    Adge

    Senior Member
    USA- English (Southern)
    You are exactly right, although it's probably very regional to the American south. =) If a kid told me their mom was going to "give them heck" I'd tell them to turn tail and run! They're likely to get a whupping (eg spanking).
     

    bartleby75

    Member
    Italian
    Thanks Adge!

    So, would you say in this context that the kids are going to be either scolded or hit? (It is, as you said, an old fashioned Southern family...)
     

    Adge

    Senior Member
    USA- English (Southern)
    To me it could go either way. I think they're going to be in trouble, but whether it's a scolding or something more physical, I couldn't say just from the wording. However, because the kids are out frog spearing, I'm assuming they live in the country, and knowing country folks I would bet that they at least got their ears pulled or something. I think Southerners as a rule tend to be a little more old-fashioned (read: physical) about disciplining their children.
     

    cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    Give heck is a euphemistic way of saying give hell. If spoken by some children, it might sound normal. If spoken by an adult, I would assume, most times, that they are prissy and prudish. In my experience, it almost always describes a verbal act, but others may have had different experiences with it, especially in other regions of the English speaking world. Decades ago, it (Give 'em hell!", not the watered down "heck" version) was used at times to describe a fierce military attack or rough conduct on the field of play of contact sports.
     
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