rake over the coals

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English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

The earliest example given is from 1565: "S. Augustine, that knewe best how to fetche an heretike ouer the coles." (OED). From the practice of dragging or raking heretics over coals performed by the Catholic Church as a form of torture.

Verb[edit]

rake over the coals

  1. (idiomatic) To call to task or to reprimand severely.

References[edit]