have someone by the short and curlies

have someone by the short and curlies

or

have someone by the short hairs

BRITISH, INFORMAL, RUDE
If someone has you by the short and curlies or by the short hairs, they have you completely in their power. The union's chief negotiator last night said: `We had the company by the short and curlies.' The managers knew they had us by the short hairs. Note: In this expression, `short and curlies' may refer to a person's pubic hair, to hair on the back of their neck, or to the hair in their beard.
See also: and, curly, have, short
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