Pru gave you a bit of a working-over


Senior Member

I was watching a rather camp movie called Sirens, with Hugh Grant and some models. Anyway, it's set in 1930s in Australia. A couple from the UK goes there for a few days (I think). They engage in a conversation with some girls. One of them chides the British lady for pretending to know what it feels like to be working class. Then her husband says,

"Pru gave you a bit of a working-over."

I liked the expression. Am wondering, is it BrE, or is it used in the US as well? And should working-over have a hyphen? (I think it should. Don't think I saw it in the subtitles though.)

Thank you!
  • Franco-filly

    Senior Member
    English - Southern England
    Thefreedictionary gives the following: a (good) working over, a good scolding. (*Typically: get ~ have ~ give someone ∼.) The boss gave me a good working over before firing me. She got a working over about her performance on the project. and quotes McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs, but it is well used in BrE. - with no hyphen.


    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    It's used (but I wouldn't call it terribly common) in AE, usually to mean a physical, rather than verbal, attack. I would definitely hyphenate it.
    Last edited:


    Senior Member
    Thank you so much Franco-filly and Parla! Parla, thanks for that point about a physical working-over. I wondered about something (besides BrE and AmE) when I heard the phrase in the movie, but couldn't put my finger on it. It was exactly this. On some level I understood the phrase as you explained.
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