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]


Nearby words

  1. by the day,
  2. by the dozen,
  3. by the numbers,
  4. by the same token,
  5. by the seat of the pants,
  6. by the skin of one's teeth,
  7. by the sweat of one's brow,
  8. by the way,
  9. by turns,
  10. by virtue of

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.