Does anyone know what "Did Mama give me what for." mean? I think it might be a saying from Louisiana. I read this in a book. It was discussing how a mother would get upset when her daughter misbehaved.

  • Odd sentence really, especially since you marked it as a declarative one and not an interrogative one. Jan 14, 2018 at 6:20
  • I've only heard this as "give (someone) the what for.", though the what seems optional. See: give (someone) (the) what for. I don't think it can be a question directed at yourself though, because you would know the answer.
    – user3169
    Jan 14, 2018 at 6:55
  • Please find the exact quote and at least the name of the book. You should give plenty of context to your quote ideally you can link to the source on google books or similar.
    – James K
    Jan 14, 2018 at 8:38

1 Answer 1


"to give someone what for" is an idiom.

It's not specifically from Louisiana, although people there might use it. The expression is commonly used here in the UK, and probably many other places too. It means to admonish/reprimand someone.

The "Did Mamma" part forms a rhetorical question used for dramatic effect, like when you say something such as "Oh boy, was she angry!"

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