mid-15c., probably of imitative origin, similar to Low German slappe, German Schlappe. Figurative meaning "insult, reprimand" is attested from 1736. Slap-happy (1936) originally meant "punch-drunk." Slap on the wrist "very mild punishment" dates from 1914.
late 15c., "strike with the open hand," from slap (n.). As an adverb, 1670s, "suddenly;" 1829, "directly." Related: Slapped; slapping.
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