This saying is not really that old. It originated at Akureyri Junior College and means to tell someone off, often by higher authority. The direct translation of the saying—which in Icelandic would be used “Að taka einhvern á beinið”—is “to force someone on the bone.” So what’s with the bone, you ask? Well, the former headmaster of the school had a whalebone that could be used as a chair. A really uncomfortable chair, may I add. So when the headmaster was telling those poor kids off, they were supposed to sit on the bone while listening to him, as an extra punishment. So there you have it, to tell someone off in Icelandic, basically means forcing you to sit on a whalebone while being scolded.
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