get/have somebody by the short hairs

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get/have somebody by the short ˈhairs

(also get/have somebody by the short and ˈcurlies) (informal) get/have somebody in a position where they must agree to what you want: We can’t go on strike because the boss will simply hire new staff. He’s got us by the short and curlies.
Short and curlies refers to the hairs on a person’s body.
See also: get, hair, have, short, somebody