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put the frighteners on (someone)
To frighten, threaten, or intimidate someone. Primarily heard in UK. Chelsea put the frighteners on Manchester United early on the in match, scoring a goal in the first five minutes and keeping constant pressure on their defence. The situation is so dire that banks have reportedly been sending round warning letters to try and put the frighteners on those whose mortgages are in arrears.
put the frighteners on someoneBRITISH, INFORMAL
If someone puts the frighteners on you, they threaten you or scare you. He and his chums tried to put the frighteners on Kelley before she had written a single word. Glenn Close put the frighteners on Michael Douglas and his family in `Fatal Attraction'. Note: `Frighteners' used to be a name for members of criminal gangs who were sent to frighten people into doing something.
put the frighteners onthreaten or intimidate. British informal
Literally, a frightener is a thug who intimidates victims on behalf of a gang.
1998 John Milne Alive & Kicking She decides to put the frighteners on him by hiring me as a private detective.