From Grace Dent on Television: Harlots, Housewivs and Heroines - a 17th Century History for Girls, BBC4 | The Independent:

They branded Diana, and still do, an hysterical, diva-ish and paranoid woman, but Diana wasn't paranoid about Camilla and the royal unspoken code of marriage, she was absolutely slap, bang on.

What does slap mean in this context?

  • 1
    to be bang-on (with slap) means to be exactly right in BrE. His answer was bang on (correct, accurate, good, OK). Usually, it would not have slap with it but since it does it should be slap-bang on. She was absolutely like she should have been. It's not the best writing in the world...
    – Lambie
    Commented Jan 27, 2017 at 17:54

5 Answers 5


If a thing is slap-bang on, it would mean "exactly right". His answer to the quiz was slap-bang on.

That said, one would not usually refer to a person as being: slap-bang on.

Please note: the term is slap-bang [right, as in right in the middle of] and usually referring to a THING, not a PERSON. Slap-bang is used to intensify: the dog was slap-bang in the middle of the road.

The other term: to be bang on means to be right. slap-bang on merely makes it stronger.

So, if you want to join /bang on/ the verb to /slap-bang/ the adjective, the best way would be: slap-bang on.

That said, it is very odd to say that: Princess Diana was slap bang-on. The only meaning here would be: She was right about the royal unspoken code of marriage.

That means: She knew that if Charles could have Camilla, then she Diana was perfectly justified (slap-bang on or right about) about having that lover of hers (I forget this name).

  • 1
    James Hewitt, as I recall. I think your point is likely correct, but I did not want to say the part about Diana's affair because it wasn't included. Funny how after so many years I can remember all the details. I am Canadian, not British, but it was always deemed 'newsworthy'.
    – WRX
    Commented Jan 27, 2017 at 19:11
  • 1
    Well, it either means she was justified in having her own lover or she knew that Charles had one. Either way, it's not the greatest writing. I guess the unspoken code of marriage is: royals will have lovers. :)
    – Lambie
    Commented Jan 27, 2017 at 19:15
  • 1
    @Lambie True, but we all agree this sentence has "arwfull grammer" to begin with. :)
    – O.M.Y.
    Commented Jan 28, 2017 at 0:34
  • 1
    I don’t find it the least bit unusual or unidiomatic in the context given here. “Diana wasn’t paranoid about Camilla: she was slap bang on” sounds perfectly normal to me. I perceive no such notion of it being more idiomatic to refer to someone’s words or actions than the person themself; either is equally natural to me. The antecedent seems completely clear and unambiguous to me in the quote given. Commented Jan 28, 2017 at 10:52
  • 2
    I don’t see how that makes any difference. The context makes it amply clear what is being referred to. Diana “spouted off” about Charles having an affair with Camilla and how this was part of an unspoken code of marriage with royalty, and she was being realistic, not paranoid, in saying that. There is no ambiguity, and the antecedent is abundantly clear. And no, you did not use the word ‘unidiomatic’, but saying “one would not usually refer to a person as being: slap-bang on” amounts to the same thing in my view. One very often does refer to a person, not a thing, as being just that. Commented Jan 28, 2017 at 14:40

"Slap-bang on" is a BrE colloquialism that means (more or less) "exactly", or "right". For example:

They tried to take the tube and landed slap-bang in the middle of the daily rush of commuters.

In this case it means that while Diana was branded by the media as "paranoid", she actually was correct that Prince Charles was romantically involved with Camilla.

  • I've rarely if ever actually heard slap-bang on (exactly correct), but it doesn't sound ridiculous, and I'm sure I'd have no problem with the meaning in context. I think your example (slap-bang in the middle) is far and away the most common context, probably followed by [I ran] slap-bang into [him]. Note that the full OED specifically defines slap in such contexts as [colloquial] With, or as with, a slap or smart quick blow; quickly, suddenly, without warning or notice. So it's more suddenly than very, which is why slap-bang on sounds a bit odd to me. Commented Jan 27, 2017 at 18:23
  • @FumbleFingers it seems most equivalent to "on the nose", at least in this context. I suppose "slap-bang on the nose" would be redundant.
    – Andrew
    Commented Jan 27, 2017 at 18:27
  • @Lambie: I'm not going to argue with people who think slap-bang on (not followed by an object) is "okay", but my suspicion is they're not as familiar with idiomatic English as they'd like to think they are. To my ear it's an experimental conflation of to run slap-bang into something and to be bang-on that doesn't exactly work. Commented Jan 27, 2017 at 18:35
  • 1
    @FumbleFingers The same OED article also gives as sense 2 “directly; straight” (“A turnstile leading slap away into the meadows”, “We walked slap down to the hotel”). That is the sense of slap being used here in my mind: it is simply an intensifier to bang on (the money). I would not personally use a hyphen here (it misrepresents the intonation), but certainly not a comma either. I agree that slap bang on isn’t a collocation in itself, but apart from slap, I can’t think what intensifier I might possible use with bang on (not counting more independent adverbs like absolutely). Commented Jan 28, 2017 at 10:58
  • 1
    Interestingly, if we try with spot on instead, slap does not work at all: “You’re slap bang on!” is fine, but “You’re slap spot on!” is utterly bizarre. And oddly, bang actually works all right there: “You’re bang spot on!” is not as idiomatic as “You’re slap bang on!”, but it doesn’t sound bizarre or ridiculous either. (Google even gives hits for bing-bang spot on.) Commented Jan 28, 2017 at 11:01

If you look at the definition in the Oxford English Dictionary, Slap , and look in the adverb section you can see definition 1.1.

1.1 Exactly; right:

Princess Diana was correct in her suspicions about Camilla Parker Bowles.

  • 1
    She was slap would not mean she was right.
    – Lambie
    Commented Jan 27, 2017 at 18:02

I wonder if this is a personal quote or a misquote because it isn't grammatical.

" They branded Diana, and still do, an hysterical, diva-ish and paranoid woman, but Diana wasn't paranoid about Camilla and the royal unspoken code of marriage, she was absolutely slap, bang on."

They branded and still brand Diana, as an hysterical, diva-ish and paranoid woman. However, Diana wasn't paranoid about Camilla and in regards to the unspoken royal code of marriage, she was absolutely correct.

"Slap" and "Bang on" are slang expressions that simply mean exactly correct (at least in the opinion of the speaker/author).

  • Yes, they are two separate terms.
    – user5267
    Commented Jan 27, 2017 at 18:02
  • 1
    Sorry, but I think this is completely wrong. Slap here is an optional "prefix" to bang on = exactly right - introducing a comma makes no sense whatsoever. Commented Jan 27, 2017 at 18:25
  • 1
    @FumbleFingers were you commenting to me? comma? I think of 'slap' as an added emphasis. It still means exactly right, though I suppose it could be "exactly! exactly right."
    – WRX
    Commented Jan 27, 2017 at 18:31
  • I was, but at the time I hadn't noticed that there was a comma in the original. Bottom line: I disagree with the comma because it should be a hyphen (or feasibly nothing). Plus I don't like the usage slap-bang on because it conflates two distinct idiomatic usages, as commented elsewhere. Commented Jan 27, 2017 at 19:11
  • 3
    @FumbleFingers The entire quote was badly written or misspoken from start to finish. I think the question was not about whether or not it was good English but what it meant. I think most of us agree it was poorly written and/or said.
    – WRX
    Commented Jan 27, 2017 at 19:16

As a "Yank from across the Pond" it seems to me the UK slang "slap-bang" is akin to our own "dead-center" (fairly self-explanatory). We also have the slang "dead-on" which means perfection.

The problem seems to be the conflation of "slap" with "bang on" being a somewhat odd combination as I read it. Over here the closest thing to "slap-bang on" might be "dead-on center" in US slang. This is not a very common usage but you may occasionally hear it none-the-less.

Both would mean "perfectly correct" in the final analysis.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .