“Dictionaries do not always take note of the semantic extensions that the verb “apanhar” has acquired in Portuguese.
When walking on the street and going into a store in any Brazilian city, it’s hard not to hear enunciations every once in a while like “você vai apanhar!” (you are going to get hit!) or “você quer apanhar?” (do you want to get hit?), as they are frequently said loudly by parents and those responsible for small children whose behavior in public leaves a lot to be desired.
The verbal interaction between child and adult, in most instances, remains as a threat only because no one physically hits anyone, thankfully. Not even a slap! Until now, I never saw a child respond affirmatively to the question about if he or she wants to get hit or not! A real communicative skill sometimes is to remain in silence. The “question” functions as a threat that leads to nothing.” – Source (in PT)
At almost the same time that I was considering writing a post on the verb “apanhar”, I came across an article on the matter in the Brazilian magazine, Língua Portuguesa. I learned it is often said in jest or as the article above points out, as a mere threat. My ex-girlfriend, a paulistana, used to say it to me (in jest, of course!) and at the time I didn’t know what the word meant but I understood the gist. Using my Portuguese knowledge at the time, I decided it was or should be reflexive and would use it in such a manner (saying “vou te apanhar”), not realizing I was in effect ‘beating up’ the verb in my own way.