have (someone) by the short hairs(redirected from get by the short hairs)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Legal, Financial, Encyclopedia.
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's got me by the short hairs now.
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]
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.