a punishment, trouble, a fuss.
|Bulletin (Sydney) 26 Sept. 22/1: [S]omething like a cannon ball on the end of a broom-stick caught the budding co-respondent all over the countenance, flattening his nose completely, and destroying his starboard light. Jerry – for it was his nulla-nullah that had surprised Go-the-rig – now went in for the fun he had decided on, and after giving his enemy ‘what sort,’ he proceeded to knock his vagrant wife senseless.|
|Sydney Sportsman (Surry Hills, NSW) 18 Sept. 1/2: Had some back-blocker or struggling person owned them, ‘what for’ would have been dealt out, sharp and strong.|
|London Street Games 79: Old mother roundabout / Knocking all the kids about – / Outside Elsie’s door. / Up comes Elsie with a great big stick / And lets her know what for.|
|In the Zone in Mayorga (1919) 193: I’ll show yer what for, yer bleedin’ sneak!|
|White Monkey 169: Well! he had got what-for!|
|Capricornia (1939) 354: There was a row about it. The people of the South wanted to know What For.|
|Poor Man’s Orange 32: I’ve got a son as old as that feller there, and if I thought he was going around in a fancy white coat staring at naked women and calling it learning he’d get what for!|
|Maori Girl 142: I’d show him what-for soon enough.|
1. (also give someone what, show someone what-for) to reprimand severely, to inflict severe pain or chastisement, esp. of an errant child.
|Secrets of Turf 125: If you don’t take your hook instanter, I reckon I’ll give you what for with this bit of wood.|
|Wkly Kansas Chief (Troy, KS) 27 Feb. 1/3: You rascal, you! I’ll show you what for!|
|‘’Arry at the Royal Evening Fête’ Punch 28 July 38/1: They’ve their slang, I suppose, these Big Bobs, — jest as we say, ‘I’ll give yer what for!’.|
|Cumberland Mercury (NSW) 5 Mar. 4/7: [T]he P’mattas gave ‘the family’ team wot for.|
|Working Class Stories of the 1890s (1971) 63: Nor yet he wasn’t one o’ them greasy niggers as [...] don’t so much as wink ’owever ’ard yer give ’em what for.‘Sissero’s Return’ in Keating|
|N.Y. Tribune 9 Dec. 5/1: [She] looks as if she could give you what for if she got her monkey up.|
|Bulletin (Sydney) 19 Sept. 48/1: I lost a good umbrella once, and me brother – he’s a lot older than me – give me What For, I can tell yer!|
|Best Short Stories 330: Lie doggo w’ile I give the bleeders wot for.‘The Contract of Corporal Twing’ in O’Brien & Cournos|
|None But the Lonely Heart 55: My feet’s just about wore off, they are. Proper giving me what for.|
|Man Who Was Not With It (1965) 290: What was my brag before Joy? How I gave my father what-for?|
|Good As Gold (1979) 383: Don’t give me what – I’ll give you what, you dummy.|
|Close Quarters (1987) 130: She [...] ran alongside for a way, giving us what-for and shaking her fist.|
|Day of the Dog 52: I reckon she’ll give ’im what for, when she finds out what ’e was doin’.|
|Now You Know 83: She’s really giving the boys what for.|
|Guardian Weekend 3 June 5: I suppose they’ll have to stop doing this now, in case Guy Ritchie gives them what for.|
2. (also give someone what’s what) to attack physically, beat up.
|‘’Arry at a Political Pic-Nic’ Punch 11 Oct. 180/1: A noisy young Rad in a wideawake vanted to give him what for!|
|Punch 26 Nov. 252: And if when a cove gits tight, / Or would give his donah wot-for on the Q.T.|
|Mord Em’ly 2: I sha’n’t be ’appy till we’ve give ’em what-for.|
|Road 105: We bad the immortal cinch on him, and if he got fresh, two or three of us would pitch on him and give him ‘what-for.’.|
|Hairy Ape Act VII: Shall we give him what’s what and put the boots to him?|
|Haunch Paunch and Jowl 8: We’ll give them what for any time they wants it.|
|There Ain’t No Justice 180: Blimey, if I’d ’ve spoke to me old man like that he’d ’ve set about me and give me what for.|
|They Drive by Night 182: Blokes working for railways dursn’t come into a caff unless they was four or five-handed. The other boys would’ve soon given them what for.|
|Look Long Upon a Monkey 174: If he tried anything on, they’d give him whatfor.|
|Pop. 1280 in Four Novels (1983) 394: You took on two pimps all by yourself, and gave ’em what-for.|
3. of a man, to have sexual intercourse.
|Sat. Night and Sun. Morning 82: Some gypsy selling clothes pegs got hold of her mother and gave her what for.|
|Awaydays 95: So basically, Elvis, Carty gives the bald skate what for while the other poor bitch is crying cos you can’t get a hard-on?|
to talk eloquently about a given topic.
|Bulletin (Sydney) 14 Apr. 32/2: ‘Well, one night I wuz sittin’ in the back room givin’ the East what for, an’ all the ladies wus sittin’ round me sayin’, ‘Ho’ow verra naice!’ whenever I’d rip out a bunger of a lie about Jerusalem the ’oly city, an’ Bathsheba.|