Definitions

slap the wrist

Slap

[slap]

A slap or "smack" is a broad stroke made with the open hand, as opposed to a punch that is made with a closed fist. Slaps are frequently made across the face, but can be also made across hands or any other body part, and can use either the palm of the hand or the back of the hand.

Etymology

The word was first recorded in 1632, probably of imitative origin. The word is found in several English colloquialisms, such as, "slap-happy," "slapshot," "slapstick," "slap on the wrist," (as a mild punishment) "slap in the face," (as a reproof) and "slap on the back" (an expression of friendship or congratulations). In music, the term is used in jazz, referring to the action of pulling strings back and allowing them to smack the instrument.

In humans

A slap is a hit. The purpose of a slap is often to humiliate, instead of injure, the target. In many films and television programs, such as a film even titled Slap Her... She's French, girls and women typically slap boys and men or even female rivals who offend them in some way, as occasionally occurs in real life. Studies show it to be used more in female acts of violence than male acts, males using different methods.

In animals

Beavers slap their tails on the water as a danger signal. Female fish of the gambusia genus will slap males with their tail fins if they are over-aggressive in mating. Dolphins have been observed to slap the surface with their tails, possibly to express aggression or sexual impulses. Humpback whales will slap their tails on the surface as a warning. They have also been known to slap attacking killer whales with their tails to keep them away. Males use their tails to slap other male humpbacks in mating contests.

See also

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