have (someone) by the short hairs

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have (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 "got" or "catch." After scoring a third goal in the last quarter, the home team really had their opponents by the short hairs. He found out about my painkiller addiction and is using it to blackmail me—he has me by the short hairs now.
See also: by, hair, have, short
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

by the short hairs

Under one's complete control. This expression is often used with get or have, as in She had her husband by the short hairs. It is in effect a euphemism for have someone by the balls, the hairs in question being pubic hair. [Colloquial; second half of 1800s]
See also: by, hair, short
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

have someone by the short hairs

tv. to have someone in an awkward position; to have dominated someone. (This refers to the shorter pubic hairs. Sometime euphemized to neck hairs.) They’ve got me by the short hairs. There’s nothing I can do.
See also: by, hair, have, short, someone
McGraw-Hill's Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions Copyright © 2006 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.
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