tail wagging the dog

the tail wagging the dog

The smallest or least important part of something in control of the larger or more important elements; a reversal of typical roles or dynamics of power. They reorganized their entire weekly schedule just because their son likes to sleep in late. Talk about the tail wagging the dog. Their group is small but very vocal, so be sure that management doesn't give in to their demands. We don't want the tail wagging the dog, after all.
See also: dog, tail, wag
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

tail wagging the dog

a situation where a small part is controlling the whole of something. John was just hired yesterday, and today he's bossing everyone around. It's a case of the tail wagging the dog. Why is this small matter taking so much time? Now it's the tail wagging the dog!
See also: dog, tail, wag
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

the tail wagging the dog

People talk about the tail wagging the dog to describe a situation where an unimportant part of something or an unimportant person or group involved in something has too much influence over it. These enormous contracts can end up with the tail wagging the dog — with the supplier having more control over the business agenda than the client. To avoid the impression of the tail wagging the dog, the Chancellor cannot be seen being influenced by the wishes of a minority party.
See also: dog, tail, wag
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012

the tail (is) wagging the ˈdog

(also let the tail wag the ˈdog) used to describe a situation where a small, unimportant thing controls a larger, more important thing: In this company the workers tell the manager what he can and cannot do. It’s a real case of the tail wagging the dog.
See also: dog, tail, wag
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
See also:
References in periodicals archive ?
Is it some form of political contrivance that has the tail wagging the dog or some form of constitutional constipation?
The Tory Party remains just as terrified of Nigel Farage as it was when David Cameron promised the Brexit referendum in the first place - a devious tail wagging the dog.
Danhof said that conservative activists need to engage in more right-wing "shareholder activism" so that the anti-gun Left is not the only "tail wagging the dog of corporate America."
One of the main reasons for my decision was that I saw it a possible new start to get our identity back and to govern our own affairs, as opposed to the tail wagging the dog.
Talk about the tail wagging the dog? A strange democracy indeed!
Our law-makers are supporting the tail wagging the dog. Parents are about to be made criminals and are in danger of having their children taken from them as a result.
THE Brexit impasse over the Irish border is becoming a case of the tail wagging the dog. There are already no fewer than 17 non-EU nations with borders adjoining member states, and all getting on with their everyday lives.
If, for the sake of clarity, we ignore the Likud radicals who are mainly addicted to their chances in the primaries, Netanyahu and the extremists who lead him are a group that represents a tiny part of the public, but manipulates the government as a tail wagging the dog.
Experts often describe Korea's wage structure as the case of the tail wagging the dog. Basic wages represent a relatively small portion of total payments with the rest filled in with various benefits, such as bonuses, merit pay, and overtime, non-duty, family and transportation allowances.
The expression 'tail wagging the dog' has been very apt in greyhound racing for a number of years, with the off-course industry having an unhealthy hold over the sport.
REGARDING the complaints by asylum seekers who are made to wear wristbands in order to access their free meals, I would just like to say, "Is this is not a case of the tail wagging the dog?" Do these people not realise how lucky they are that we have accepted them into our country.
When the Labour Government in Cardiff established the Betsi Board in the first place, did they ever realise what a calamity they were creating with "the tail wagging the dog" leaving the people of North Wales very angry with no hope for their families' future in medical care?
Many of the most popular CMMS packages available in the Middle East market try to horn shoe, the client into their offer, a classic case of the tail wagging the dog. With this in mind the client should also consider how closely the standard, sold package will meet their real requirements.
I heard one Westminster politician say: "We have to stop the tail wagging the dog."