have the short end of the stick(redirected from they had the short end of the stick)
have the short end of the stick
To have a disadvantage or burden as a result of some unequal or unfair outcome or treatment. With tighter deadlines and bigger workloads, it soon became clear that our department had the short end of the stick with this project. I think Tom felt like he had the short end of the stick growing up, since his older brother got most of the attention and praise for his athletic skills.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
short end of the stick, to get/have the
To lose out; to get less than one is entitled to. Exactly what kind of stick is being referred to is no longer known, but possibly it is one used in fighting or in a tug-of-war, in which the person holding the longer end has the advantage. “He having gotten (as we say) the better end of the staffs, did wrest our wills at his pleasure,” wrote Thomas Jackson in 1626 (Commentaries upon the Apostles Creed). Around the turn of the twentieth century in America, “the short end” of anything came to mean the inferior part, and soon this was combined with “stick” to yield the current cliché. See also wrong end of the stick.
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer