short hairs

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short hairs

The hairs on the back of one's neck, though it is often (and incorrectly) assumed that the phrase refers to pubic hairs. Typically used in the phrase "have (one) by the short hairs," which means to completely control, dominate, or hold power over someone, especially in a difficult or awkward situation. Did you see that poor intern running around earlier? The boss really has him by the short hairs.
See also: hair, short
References in classic literature ?
There was a strange familiarity-- a weird familiarity in it that made the short hairs rise at the nape of his neck, and brought his upper lip into an involuntary snarl that bared his fighting fangs.
Again his spine tingled and the short hairs lifted at the nape of his neck and along the top of his scalp.
He was a brave man, but he had felt the short hairs bristle upon the nape of his neck when that uncanny cry rose upon the air.
There were times, too, when faced by a mighty cave bear, a saber-toothed tiger, or huge felis spelaea, black-maned and terrible, even my powerful rifle seemed pitifully inadequate--but fortune favored me so that I passed unscathed through adventures that even the recollection of causes the short hairs to bristle at the nape of my neck.
Though our eyes instantly turned toward the spot from which the voice seemed to emanate, there was no one in sight, and I must admit that cold shivers played along my spine and the short hairs at the base of my head stiffened and rose up, as do those upon a hound's neck when in the night his eyes see those uncanny things which are hidden from the sight of man.
Tarzan felt the short hairs at the back of his neck rise.
Why, then, should Tarzan feel the rise of the short hairs at the nape of his neck merely because Taug sat close to Teeka?
The trumpet-box was pouring out a string of the most elaborate abuse that even Kim had ever heard, in a high uninterested voice, that for a moment lifted the short hairs of his neck.
See if the young man with the black doublet and the short hair, who was with me just now, is still in the palace.