get/have somebody by the short hairs

get (someone) by the short hairs

To completely control, dominate, or hold power over someone, especially in a difficult or awkward situation. A reference to the hairs on the back of one's neck, though it is often (and incorrectly) assumed that the phrase refers to pubic hairs. Can also be used with the verbs "have" or "catch." By scoring a third goal in the last quarter, the home team really got their opponents by the short hairs. He found out about my painkiller addiction and is using it to blackmail me—he's got me by the short hairs now.
See also: get, hair, short

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