get the upper hand

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get the upper hand

To come to be in a position of advantage, power, and/or control (over someone, something, or some situation). We've been doing everything we can for your father, but I'm afraid the cancer is getting the upper hand. The home team got the upper hand when their opponents' star quarterback went out with an injury.
See also: get, hand, upper
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

get, have, gain, etc. the ˌupper ˈhand (over somebody)

get, etc. power or control over somebody, especially in a fight, competition, etc: Our team gained the upper hand in the second half of the match.The police claim they have the upper hand in their fight against the drug dealers.
See also: hand, upper
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
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References in classic literature ?
They at last succeeded in getting the upper hand of these untoward streams; only, in consequence of the loosening of the soil, the wheel partly gave way, and a slight partial settlement ensued.
She's going to our house--ah, the women are getting the upper hand now, and serve the men right, I say!--she's going to our house to be Sir Jervis's secretary.
What is more, even in the acutest paroxysm of this cowardly fever, I dreamed of getting the upper hand, of dominating them, carrying them away, making them like me--if only for my "elevation of thought and unmistakable wit." They would abandon Zverkov, he would sit on one side, silent and ashamed, while I should crush him.
I shall have only to listen and to keep my scorn from getting the upper hand of my caution."
It seemed to me (too soon, I dare say) that I was getting the upper hand of my uncle; and I began next to say that I must have the bed and bedclothes aired and put to sun-dry; for nothing would make me sleep in such a pickle.
He is here, good sir, waiting your pleasure, here in London, walking the streets at noonday; carrying it off jauntily; looking for you, I swear,' said Ralph, his face darkening, and his own hatred getting the upper hand of him, for the first time, as this gay picture of Nicholas presented itself; 'if we were only citizens of a country where it could be safely done, I'd give good money to have him stabbed to the heart and rolled into the kennel for the dogs to tear.'
Now, in light of recent tragic events, and with Mosley clearly getting the upper hand, the family has to stick together again.
"I'd be mortified." Another wrote: "Got to applaud Manjaros for getting the upper hand doing this.
The two stars put on quite a tug-of-war on this chilly night, with each getting the upper hand at times although Van Fleet did manage to put a handful of quality attempts at keeper Olivia Medina.
The match continued to be absorbing in the second half and Wirral levelled matters with another well worked try from winger Ben Brooks and when they took the lead with a Sam Broadbent score they looked to be getting the upper hand.
He said Jonathan was getting the upper hand and claimed Mr Morrison joined in the attack on him.
His remarks to Conservatives in Birmingham, with phrases like "the black man getting the upper hand" shocked Tory leader Ted Heath.
As the dry Santa Ana winds that have fueled the blazes abated slightly, officials lifted evacuation orders for parts of Ventura and Santa Barbara counties, and crews started getting the upper hand in containing some major fires.
There were opportunities at both ends in the early stages, but Brighton seemed to be getting the upper hand when Stoke drew first blood in the 28th minute.
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