have someone by the balls

Have someone at one's mercy, as in You have to pay up—they've got you by the balls. The balls here allude to the male genitals. [Vulgar slang; early 1900s]


Nearby words

  1. have oneself,
  2. have out,
  3. have pity on,
  4. have pull with,
  5. have rocks in one's head,
  6. have someone's ear,
  7. have someone's hide,
  8. have someone's number,
  9. have something against,
  10. have something coming

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