The cover of a vocal score for Gilbert and Sullivan's The Mikado
The phrase "short, sharp shock" means "a quick, severe punishment." It is an example of alliteration. Although the phrase originated earlier, it was popularised in Gilbert and Sullivan's 1885 comic operaThe Mikado, where it appears in the song near the end of Act I, "I Am So Proud". It has since been used in popular songs, song titles, literature, as well as in general speech.