have (someone or something) by the tail

have (someone or something) by the tail

To be in complete control of someone or something; to be in a situation in which one's success is likely. Primarily heard in US. Any time my little brother wants to tattle on me, I just threaten to tell mom about the vase he broke—I've sure got him by the tail now! I can't wait to get my grades back—I studied so hard that I had my exams by the tail!
See also: have, tail
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