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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.
See also: frighteners, on, put
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

put the frighteners on someone

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.
See also: frighteners, on, put, someone
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012

put the frighteners on

threaten 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.
See also: frighteners, on, put
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

put the ˈfrighteners on (somebody)

(British English, slang) threaten somebody so that they will do what you want: They started putting the frighteners on the witness, sending him threatening letters.
See also: frighteners, on, put
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
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References in periodicals archive ?
In The Frighteners: A Journey Through Our Cultural Fascination with the Macabre, Reverend Peter Laws simultaneously serves as scholarly tour guide and terror-driven participant through terrains inhabited by vampires, biblical characters, horror movies, zombies, video games, murderabilia, historical ruins, and fairy tales.
Tony sends a couple of thugs |to put the frighteners on Liz
Was he under a stone when Ukip polled most votes in May 2014, or when Ukip won Rochester and Strood, or when Ukip won Clacton, or came second at Eastleigh, or came close to winning Middleton, or put the frighteners on Lib Lab Con at just about every election in the last five years?
IF YOU are looking for a new cocktail to put the frighteners on your friends this Halloween, Smirnoff have got just the thing.
Bookmakers, left battered and bruised by the results from matchday one, are now left fearing another horror story as eight odds-on favourites bid to put the frighteners on the reeling layers.
"The overall picture is that it might put the frighteners on people, if it stops one person speeding and saves one life, it will have been worthwhile."
Then Sean brazenly visits Johnny in prison and isn't bothered when he tries to put the frighteners on him.
That crews dubbed these planes Bristol 'Frighteners' is indicative of their handling qualities Picture: DAILY POST ARCHIVE
Before climbing the Empire State Building with this year's mammoth "King Kong" remake, or conjuring up "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy, Peter Jackson was best known for his relatively small Kiwi pics like "Heavenly Creatures" and "Brain Dead." "The Frighteners," his first Hollywood foray, was less auspicious.
Some of his first designs "ended up being a big deal" to kids who grew up to be makeup artists and other professional frighteners, he said, so he's re-releasing some of Distortions' original catalog in limited collector's editions of 1,000.
He has since gone on to star in numerous feature films, including "Seven," "The Frighteners," "Leaving Las Vegas," "Dead Man Walking," "Toy Story," "Toy Story 2" and Stanley Kubrick's cult classic, "Full Metal Jacket."
STAFF at a Huddersfield town centre hair salon put the frighteners on customers on Saturday - but all in a good cause.
When David stumbles in on Lauren bullying his niece, Bethany, he seizes the chance to put the frighteners on the schoolgirl.
He calls up a couple of his thug chums and instructs them to put the frighteners on his missus.
e other letter puts the frighteners on over the elected mayor for the Teesside region.
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