As a non-native reader, I stumbled upon the meaning of "get a serious reaming" and it seemed to be an idiomatic expression for being punished. At least the first Google matches seem to suggest this.

Is this the whole truth, or does this idiom implicate something important besides it?

  • This question appears to be off-topic because it is about translation into another language.
    – Robusto
    Commented Jul 4, 2014 at 14:26
  • @Robusto: The fact that I wish to translate it, should be seen as decoration only. Maybe I should rephrase it a little...
    – Wolf
    Commented Jul 4, 2014 at 14:37
  • 1
    Check Urban Dictionary before going headlong into a translation; you never know what words mean "other" stuff too.
    – Frank
    Commented Jul 4, 2014 at 14:38
  • Yes. At least don't lead with that. It gives the wrong impression.
    – Robusto
    Commented Jul 4, 2014 at 14:39
  • @Frank I try to keep that in mind. Thx
    – Wolf
    Commented Jul 4, 2014 at 14:47

3 Answers 3


One of the meanings of the verb ream is

[North American INFORMAL] Rebuke someone fiercely: the agent was reaming him out for walking away from the deal

The gerund form, reaming, is used as a noun to mean a serious rebuke.

Your phrase means to receive a very serious rebuke.

As to its source, etymonline.com give a first use for this meaning as 1950, but does not indicate the derivation. It also notes as a meaning anal sex, dating back to 1942.

There may be a connection between these two uses. In US slang, it is not uncommon to use reference to unwelcome sexual contact to indicate a person was seriously harmed by someone who has power over them, as in

  • you got screwed
  • he really fucked you over
  • they stuck it to you (similarly to schtupp)

To the extent that reaming might be understood to refer to anal sex (in a pejorative way), it may have migrated to mean being abusively dominated and thence to humiliated through criticism.

  • ...than it means - an expression of sharp disapproval or criticism (Google translate) - a purely verbal action?
    – Wolf
    Commented Jul 4, 2014 at 14:39
  • 1
    Yes. A reaming is a verbal attack, not a physical one. See additional info I just added about its possible source.
    – bib
    Commented Jul 4, 2014 at 14:43
  • To ream (out) in the sense of a scathing reprimand probably derives from the original sense of ream meaning to widen or enlarge a hole, such as when one reams out the bore of a gun. It’s like saying you’re going to rip somebody a new one.
    – tchrist
    Commented Jul 4, 2014 at 14:57
  • 1
    @tchrist I think that ripping somebody a new one refers to a new anus. I also think that the sexual reference may well have come from the concept of mechanical reaming of a hole.
    – bib
    Commented Jul 4, 2014 at 14:59
  • Certainly — and on both counts.
    – tchrist
    Commented Jul 4, 2014 at 15:01

The reference is to "ass reaming", a colloquialism for the situation where a superior (officer or manager) "reads the riot act" (look it up -- there are several good references) to an underling.

Of course, "ass reaming" refers to sodomizing someone, in the literal sense.


The idiom is derived from military jargon meaning to ream out the bore of a gun or artillery piece. The act of reaming is a harsh cleaning out of the inside of the gun, with a heavy swab, to remove any residues from previous firings. A "serious reaming" can affect the lands and grooves of the barrel, so a serious reaming is not something you do often, just in cases of absolute necessity.

  • Do you have any reference to support your answer? Please include it if you have.
    – user140086
    Commented Jul 1, 2016 at 16:48

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