under someone's thumb


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under someone's thumb

Controlled or dominated by someone, as in He's been under his mother's thumb for years. The allusion in this metaphoric idiom is unclear, that is, why a thumb rather than a fist or some other anatomic part should symbolize control. [Mid-1700s]
See also: thumb

under someone's thumb

COMMON If someone is under another person's thumb, the second person controls them. He's completely under his mother's thumb. It's a wonder he dared move out of his room without her permission. National television is firmly under the thumb of the president. Note: You can also say that someone is under the thumb. Ian told the court how his wife kept him under the thumb during their seven-year marriage.
See also: thumb

under someone's thumb

completely under someone's influence or control.
See also: thumb
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